If you’ve ever refinanced a loan, you know the goal is to find the lowest interest rate. Essentially one is swapping creditors, transferring debt to a gentler financier. This is a common concept in our fiscal life, but the simple notion of debt transfer is also at the heart of our spiritual life. Our redemption hinges on refinancing.
In our second reading this weekend (Col 1:12-20), Saint Paul tells us that God “delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” This is the greatest refinancing ever offered. For we were in debt to sin, a debt whose interest rate was so high (and compounding from our first parents), we had no hope of paying it off. Bankrupt, we had fallen into debtor’s prison, paying for our debts in eternal bondage.
But then came our redeemer. God shouldered our debts. The infinitely wealthy “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7,8). He paid our debts on the Cross. He transferred them to his account. He became our new creditor, offering us refinancing, offering us redemption.
This weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We acknowledge Jesus’ supreme sovereignty, his right to rule over us. He is our master as our creator and as our redeemer: “for you have been purchased at a price” (1Cor 6:20). Celebrating Christ the King reminds us that we are still debtors. Our debt is infinite. We have not paid it off. But we have refinanced and exchanged creditors.
As debtors to sin we were bound to a dark and miserable slavery. In debt to Christ, we are bound to one who no longer calls us slaves but friends (see Jn 15:15). As slaves to sin we paid our debt in anxiety, frustration and tears. Purchased by the blood of Christ, we pay our debt with gratitude, praise and worship. In debt to sin we came to resemble beasts. Under the yoke of Christ’s charity we come to resemble God. The debt of sin meant death. Refinanced, we have life and “more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
In our gospel this weekend, the good thief gets it right (Lk 23:35-43). He acknowledges what he owes (“we have been condemned justly”), but he places his hope in the Christ (“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”). He is refinanced on the spot: “today you will be with me in paradise.” No credit check, no assessment of funds, just a quick exchange of credit. Eternity will not be long enough to pay him back.