The Devil's Peak in the dusk, 2014, looking south from the Hawker Road.

Embracing Grief or Empire

Gospel: Luke 12:49-56

You can listen here.

The gospel reading this week is part of Jesus' reply to Peter, who asks in Luke 12:41 whether the promise of the Master who will return from his wedding and serve the slaves, who might just be his bride the church, is a parable "for us or for everyone." Jesus replies with another parable which suggests that rather than the church having some special privilege denied to everyone, it has instead a special responsibility.  "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." (Luke 12:48)

Jesus goes on to say,          

49 ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided:
father against son
   and son against father,
mother against daughter
   and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
   and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

54 He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain”; and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Alyce McKenzie alerted me to the echo of Micah 7 which is in these words.

Put no trust in a friend,
have no confidence in a loved one;
guard the doors of your mouth
from her who lies in your embrace;
for the son treats the father with contempt,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
your enemies are members of your own household.
But as for me, I will look to the Lord,
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me. (Micah 7:5-7)

Continuing to read Micah 7, I read this:

8 Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy;
   when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
   the Lord will be a light to me.
9 I must bear the indignation of the Lord,
   because I have sinned against him,
until he takes my side
   and executes judgement for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
   I shall see his vindication.

McKenzie says that the Luke reading this week is commentary on the preceding verses of Luke 12: 41-48 where Jesus answers Peter and so is really speaking to "us." As I read Micah 7, and as I consider my own life, I wonder if they are also commentary on a tacit confession made by Luke. It seems that Jesus' answer to Peter is not so much warning of what may go wrong in the discipleship of the church, but what has gone wrong.

In the first flush of faith I was delighted. I began to realise I was a part of a community and a way of being which was much greater than myself. I worked hard to discern and express what Jesus is about for my time and place, and to escape the social Christianity which, quite early, I began to realise was often about its own personal comfort. I did not then have the language I would use today, but my Pitjantjatjara mentors began to teach me about the same exclusions and privileges which I later would find used against women and LGBTIQ folk and folk from other religions.

Somewhere in that I realised that despite all learning and seeking to follow Jesus, I had been a fellow traveller with the world. I saw how much, even as a disciple and as clergy, I was invested in worldly success. Not the Mercedes Benz kind of success, but a generally comfortable material existence, and the assumption of social stability and, as a man with multiple degrees, a certain respect and privilege. The second part of my life is now  slower and more difficult in its learning. I see it  not so much as repentance; I am repenting, but I see it as a slow and difficult divestment of the world. I am deeply challenged by how hard that is, and by how little I have been shaped by the Christ, so far.

I must bear the indignation of the Lord,
   because I have sinned against him,
until he takes my side
   and executes judgement for me.

To be clear how these verses work themselves out, this is not a matter of the Lord sitting and taking personal offense at me.  It is rather more like my situation this morning: It is now 36 hours after a heavy fall from my bike in the wet. The scrapes and bruises hurt every time I move, but there is nothing to do but endure them until their time is over. This is also where I am as a part of a society which has forgotten God and must live with the consequence until its time is over. The only question is whether I do that as a member of Jesus' little flock (12:32) or as one of the crowd who still think God will intervene in their trivial family disputes, (12:13) or have no time for him because, knowing that God does not work like this, have decided that God does not exist at all.

I am finding hard to speak of Luke 12 in the neat chunks chosen by the lectionary. It seems to be a large block of text held together by the promises to the church, and by the failings of the church. It speaks to me as this whole block.

I do not read it as a direct report of what Jesus was saying on one busy day as the crowds gathered around him. It is written decades later, picking the eyes out of Jesus' preaching, probably from many times and places, to speak to the situation of Luke's community of faith.

Through the chapter Jesus switches between addressing the crowd and the little flock. There is an emphasis on not being afraid, and an emphasis on the danger of possessions. I understand possessions not merely as material goods; possessions are the material stockpiling of privilege which insulates us from true community, and which can turn a little flock into one more small outpost of empire. The warnings about greed and possessions indicate that for Luke's people, possessions were a major problem, just as it is clear that they were living in a dangerous time and fearful of being killed. (12:4-12) In an orderly account (Luke 1:1) you talk about the issues which you face.

Luke 12 can be read as a description of two ways to live. It questions whether one will be alert to the meaning of life, or not. Will we be one of the crowd, or one of Jesus' little flock? The consequence of being in the crowd is mostly unexamined, although not good— the "light beating," but those of the little flock who are not alert and prepared, who knew what was wanted "but did not do... what was wanted," are threatened with a "severe beating." Of the ones "to whom much has been given, much will be required." It is tempting to read this sort of text as the emotional manipulation of a preacher seeking to scare people into compliance. I find it speaks truth. I do find much is required of me, (and that I fall far short.) And I begin to wonder if the text is warning me that there is consequence to my failures. I shall return to this.

At the beginning of the chapter, as the crowd flocks to Jesus, he warns the disciples to beware the hypocrisy of the Pharisees: nothing secret ... will not become known. (12:1) What we have been in our secret hearts will determine who we are in the end, and in our daily living.  At the end of the chapter,  the crowds are called hypocrites; you know how to read the weather. You know what is going on; his question "Why do you not know..." is rhetorical.  (12:56)

But as Glen Monson points out, the context of the verses set for this week, especially verse 51— Do you think I have come to bring peace— means "we are the ones Jesus calls hypocrites.  We are the ones Jesus accuses of believing that he comes to protect the status quo," the status quo I have begun to realise that I have been so invested in. If we are in such a place, then we are simply the crowd, and are not the church. Perhaps being dressed for action with our lamps lit is the constant repentance and divestment of the status quo which is so seductive for us.

Jesus speaks specifically to the crowd (in verses 1, 13, 54) but speaks mostly to us, the church. He is calling us out of the crowd.

We are disciples (in verses 1, 22)
and my friends;  (literally I say to you the friends (philos) of me, in verse 4)
although the man who tries to triangulate Jesus into an argument with his brother is not a friend, despite the NRSV translation. The Greek is anthrope; that is, "Man, who set me to be..." (in verse 14)
We are also little flock, in verse 32 where as Mark D Davis says,

“Small little flock”: The word for “flock” (ποίμνιον) is already a diminutive form of the word that is used elsewhere for flock (ποίμνη, Luke 2:8).   When Luke adds μικρὸν, I’m trying to reflect that double emphasis on smallness with “small little flock.”

We are the 'little, little ones' God loves.

And, finally, we are Peter who confess Jesus as Lord, and we are us. (in verse 41)

But if we worry about possessions and food (in verses 11, 22, 25, 29) if we strive after them (in verses 19, 30) instead of the kingdom (in verse 31) then we are of little faith, which is to say, a people rather more like a crowd than disciples. The teaching of the chapter begins with words about the proper place of fear (in verses 4, 5, 5, 5) and then shows that worry over possessions leads to misplaced fear. In gentleness he says, Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. [So] sell your possessions. (in verses 32-3)

Then we come to the decisions of great promise and terrible threat.  He chooses metaphors about the master of a household which has slaves. The disciples who remain alert, and dressed for action are those who live out being neighbour to all people. They are the ones who are not concerned with their own privilege and possessions, but about living as Christ lives. They will be like the slaves who have the household running as it should be when the master returns from his wedding feast. In his joy, he will serve them. They will find they are the bride he adores. And quite obviously, they've made some very good decisions!

The ones who are not living as neighbour to all people, but are more concerned with their own privilege and possessions than living as Christ lives, will find the return of the master a thing of terror. They will be cut off and put with the unfaithful. (See the KJV here, which seems a better translation than NRSV which has "cut off" as a footnote.) The unfaithful, of course, are the crowd.

We hasten to say that the second master is not a picture of God, which is correct. But if we understand scripture to imply that God leaves no one behind, and if we have learned that older understandings of God as One who literally beats us are more a reflection of their time than of the God who loves all people just the same, it is perilously easy to then conclude that the story of the beaten slaves has nothing to say to us... because God's not like that kind of master. But the whole point of the parable is that those slaves are us; Peter asks if the joy of Jesus the bridegroom is our privilege alone, and Jesus changes the conversation from privilege to responsibility. He replies that of those who are given much, much is required. My sermon on this text in Luke 12 tells this story:

Dear Elwyn, who you remember used to preach for us, was a twin. He grew up at Tailem Bend, across the river from where my Mum was raised. She often used to tell us kids how dangerous the river was, and how many people had drowned. It was no place for ten year old boys on their own, but Elwyn and his brother skipped school one day, and went swimming in the river.  Somehow, Elwyn's dad got to hear that the twins were in the river rather than in the school. Elwyn told me they looked up to see their father looking down on them from the top of the cliff. Elwyn said, "We ran for our lives!"

Elwyn's dad had concern for his sons. In an act of love, he left his work and came to their rescue in a situation which could have destroyed them, yet the sons could not see love or concern, or rescue, and could only fear punishment and retribution.

I wonder if it might be like that with God and us. Could it be that we might only see threat rather than love and freedom? If we must hold onto the wealth and possession which is white supremacy, then gun control will not be seen as a freedom, or as a saving thing, but seen as threat. Gun control, like so many other issues, will not only be a marker of group identity, but it will be one of the identifiers that the crowd uses to measure the preservation of its privilege. Understand the depth of this. The gun is not a marker for recognition, it's not a red shirt at soccer practice instead of a yellow shirt. The gun is more than symbol; it is the actuality of privilege, which is why it is inevitably used when the wider society denies the privilege we take to be inalienably our own. When we are in this alienated place, then even when God brings a hope of love, and freedom from guns, and freedom from death, people flee from hope, love and God.

The same psychological and spiritual mechanics apply to climate change denial. God sends prophets, scientists, with the news that we are damaging the earth… and yet they are rejected with hate. We are rushing headlong into climatic hell, despite the fact that land and water remediation could be shaped to be a farmer's best friend for the preservation of land, the establishment of sane and fair markets, and the protection of water supplies; despite the fact that new energy sources are a wonderful opportunity for energy investment; and despite the fact that serious change is our only hope for survival. When we are invested in the status quo, and take our security from the preservation status quo, freedom is a thing to be feared. And change cannot be tolerated.

Is that what you want to get into? Jesus asks us. "Do you think I came to bring peace, the so called peace where you on the land, and you in the good houses in the nice part of town get to make the laws and keep the nasty people out in Elizabeth and back in Mexico?

"Let me tell you, if that's what you are expecting, you are going to find the opposite. There will be division. For the dispossessed will not lie down for you. Can't you read the signs, you people who are more crowd than sheep? Can't you see the empire is falling apart?"

Of course, what we take as a falling apart is really the completion of the just creation. But will we be able to see it that way?

It is beyond me to imagine just how the expectation and hope of Jesus' people that God will restore and complete the creation will work out in actuality. But when I look how we see hope love and God as things of terror in this life, I have no difficulty imagining that the holiness of God in some future place might seem terror rather than delight and joy.

How do we live in this? How do we remain dressed for action? I offer my own experience here.

I think it is the embracing of our deepest grief for the world which will open us to the joy of life with God. That is the direction of my trust.

As a child, the local stories never quite aligned with the dry land I observed. I did not have a vocabulary to express what I was seeing, but something was wrong. Nevertheless, we farmed well and carefully. We farmed gently, and always slightly understocked. I went off to university and studied botany, and rangelands ecology. I learned to read the land, and to read the health of the land. I saw the rock-hard scalds where, after almost a century, only the barest amount of lichen had colonised the scars left by arrogant white agriculture just to the north of our farm. I worked in the "desert" where there were still places where there had been no sheep and cattle, and saw the richness of the undamaged land with new eyes.  And then I came home. I walked the scrub in which I had played as a child, and was devastated. Over the period of a few years I saw how the careful stewardship of my family was destroying the land anyway. And slowly, I began to realise that our careful farming had always been wrong. We were never stewarding the land we had taken over, only slowing the rate of decline relative to some others who farmed alongside us. We were and are part of a culture which is destroying the biospheric stability which gives us life

Will we grieve, or will we harden our hearts and close our eyes at the moments when we see we were always wrong? Will we embrace our grief, which is the beginning of repentance, or will we embrace our riches? Are we of Jesus' little flock, or are we, first of all, Australians— or Americans?

I include the USA in my question because American friends have been sharing their grief at the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, which came one day after another. For us in Australia, the view is complicated.  Several years ago, Richard Beck wrote

...my beloved America. I'm just watching it fall apart. Personally, I think we are headed to a very bad place and we've lost our ability to save ourselves. In our fear-driven panic we've lost our ability to turn back from the precipice. We're going to go over the edge. Maybe sooner, maybe later. But it's just a matter of time.

In Australia, we don’t have the guns. An American friend panicked when her Aussie husband abused a dopey driver: "You'll get us killed!" The thought that mouthing off is almost expected behaviour here was beyond her imagination. She shared how, like some of others of her American friends here, she had not realised the tension under which she had lived at home. However, it seems to me that we Australians are in lockstep with the US, except a few paces behind. Becks' words caught my attention because they are true here, too. We are slowly killing off the freedoms of our nation, only without the guns.

We don't have the gross narcissism of Trump, but the parallels between the ruling parties of political privilege are unmissable.  For those of us who felt Australia was different, less warlike, less about white privilege, and more about justice and a fair go, it is becoming obvious that we are just one more vassal state of the Empire, and are just the same. America has Guantanamo Bay and the beginnings of a wall. We have Nauru, Manus, and Christmas Island. The Federal Police seem bent on intimidating journalists, folk who blow the whistle on foul practice are being prosecuted, and politicians laugh off indiscretions which once would have shamed them out of parliament. They repeatedly lie, straight faced, about how people can have jobs if they wish, and heap more onerous and destructive burdens upon those who are unemployed, whilst the figures show a ten to one imbalance (or worse) between those wanting work and the number of jobs available. The government's Robo-debt extortion scam continues. Few who are privileged seem to care. People (employed by private health care, funnily enough) seriously suggest we should shut down Medibank and place health care in private hands.

For those Australians not blinded by their possessions and privilege, this is a time of great grief in which it is difficult not to see that we are following the USA over the edge.  And we have grown more careful about when and how we mouth off.

I have begun to see that I had assumed that the world was getting better; partially, not in all ways, but better nonetheless. I had forgotten that the world was still... the world. And I am full of grief. As I listen, I sense that grief and anger, and despair, is growing across the nation. We are waking up and many of us fear that there is no turning back here. What we do now is live through the consequences of our fall, with all the pain and bruising it has brought us.

Our grieving here will be the reading out of our own judgement. Are we grieving the degradation of the land and the oppression of its peoples, or is our grief and outrage about the loss of our own privilege and safety? Where is the seat of our outrage? One grief is the repentant way of the little flock of Christ; the other grief is, at base, the resentment of an Empire which is failing.

How do we embrace grief in all this?

Literally. Whilst Rundle Mall (the centre of Adelaide's retail fantasy world) remains in denial and pushes the beggars out into Grenfell Street, we can take our coffee money, and much more, just as the churches north and south of the Mall feed the homeless, give them clothes, and give them a safe place to sit and talk and be. We can be part of that.

In prayer. I am working with an artist, and will be her 'domestique' as we ride 2000km up the rivers from the sea to a regional centre which is running out of water even for drinking. We will ride through some of the most beat up country in Australia, which is already in deep drought. I will be teaching her to read the land. It will be a journey of grief for us both. For me, it is a prayer, a refusal to avert my eyes, and a refusal to hope that the worst of the future will not come until my time is over, and therefore decide that I need do nothing.

In dying. We are supposed to be the little flock who know that death is not the end. Who know that death is a baptism from which we are raised up. Actual embrace of the poor, serious abandonment of cars, and meat, and airplanes, are all things we Christians should do. And we should be at the protests, and writing the letters, and speaking where we have influence, small as it may be. But our lane in this marathon, our calling,  is to learn to die. And to give that to the crowd and the world. As the saying goes, we need to stay in our lane.

Let me expand the quotation I made from Richard Beck

So what were Jesus's followers supposed to do? This is Jesus's constant refrain in Mark 13: Watch. That is, in fact, how Jesus's apocalyptic discourse ends, with the command to watch.

That's what I'm doing now with my beloved America. I'm just watching it fall apart. Personally, I think we are headed to a very bad place and we've lost our ability to save ourselves. In our fear-driven panic we've lost our ability to turn back from the precipice. We're going to go over the edge. Maybe sooner, maybe later. But it's just a matter of time.

But you know what? That's okay. Empires come. Empires go.

And the church simply watches.

Note that Beck is no quietist, and is active in prison ministry and ministry to disabled people. He's embracing people.

But the world where empires come, empires go, and the church simply watches is, and always has been, the world of the church, the world where we live among the empires. And in embracing the poor and the unlovely, in serving those who threaten us, in speaking up despite those who can kill the body (Luke 12:4 ) we practice for our death with all the little dyings that come with the threats and fears. But most of all, we watch. We refuse to avert our eyes. We honour God and serve the world by watching, by seeing, and by remaining faithful.

The Samurai  Yamamoto Tsunetomo wrote

If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead he gains freedom in the Way.

This is quoted by Roy Scranton, who wrote that as a soldier, "Instead of fearing my end, I owned it."

This works for our Way, too. I have begun to meditate on my dying. I watch. And somehow— I don't quite have the words for this yet, but somehow, simply watching and grieving has meant that "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom," is a real comfort, something that has substance beyond just being words. 

 

Andrew Prior (2019)
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please note that references to Wikipedia and other websites are intended to provide extra information for folk who don't have easy access to commentaries or a library. Wikipedia is never more than an introductory tool, and certainly not the last word in matters biblical!

Also on One Man's Web
Luke 12:49-56 - The Fire of Free Will (2013)
Luke 12:49-56 - What is God? (2013)
Luke 12:49-56 - God's Time (2010)

On Climate Change (quoting Roy Scranton) - Easter in the Anthropocene

Luke 12 

1 Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. 2Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 3Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

4 ‘I tell you, my friends, (Λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν τοῖς φίλοις μου) do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 5But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

8 ‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. 10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ 14But he said to him, ‘Friend, [No! Ἄνθρωπε] who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ 15And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ 16Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” 18Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” 20But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’

22 He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 26If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, (ὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον) for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39 ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’

41 Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ 42And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 43Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 44Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 45But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 47That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

49 ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided:
father against son
   and son against father,
mother against daughter
   and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
   and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

54 He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain”; and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

57 ‘And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. 59I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.’


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