Lectionary: Proper 16C / Ordinary 21C / Pentecost +14

by LA

Luke 13:10-17

During times of heightened Pent 14C Lukedanger the administration at this institution will declare a Level 1 Lockdown to be in effect. During such a lockdown, all prisoners must be handcuffed behind their backs before opening the doors at their cells, no exceptions. This procedure helps keep everyone safe until the time of heightened danger passes.

One night during such a lockdown, an old man I know had a heart attack. Although help was called and the medical staff responded fairly quickly to his aid, because the old man was lying prone on the floor unresponsive he could not walk to his door to allow the security personnel to handcuff him. As a result, security personnel refused to open the cell door to allow the medical team to treat the old man. After all, there was a Level 1 Lockdown in effect and rules are rules.

While awaiting direction on what to do from the higher ups the old man died. He was wheeled out of the cell house on a stretcher face down because his corpse was handcuffed behind his back. This old man was needlessly killed by blindly following a rule put into place for his own protection.

The religious establishment in Luke 13:10-17 had erected a rule and tradition that they strictly followed so blindly regarding the keeping of the Sabbath that it actively prevented them from the keeping the very heart of the same Law that tradition was put into place to protect. The Messiah’s response to those members at the synagogue makes it very clear that any such man-made rules or traditions that prevent a believer from keeping the heart of the Law of the Almighty make one a hypocrite and should be largely ignored.

I cannot really blame the security staff in this instance. After all, they were just following orders. Even though Nuremberg taught us that “I was just following orders” is not an acceptable excuse to relieve a defendant of the responsibility of the needless taking of life, that lesson is largely ignored by most of the staff of our nation’s prisons today.

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