Being in Prison…
Psalm 142: 5-7
May I please invite you to prayer: Lord, open our ears so that we may listen, and our hearts so that we may hear. Amen.
It?s terrible to be in prison. It is not pleasant at all to be confined against your will, even if you?re in prison for some really good reason such as because you?ve proven to be a real threat to the life and well-being of others. Whatever the reason for being in prison, both just and unjust, being in prison disintegrates one?s dignity and self-worth. It shatters one?s sense of being human to be shackled and caged. It is pure brutality to be deprived of freedom and to be prevented from freely exercising the will and fancies of one?s soul.
Indeed, it is an indictment on our humanity ? an indictment on our failure as a society and as creations of God ? that we so wantonly put so many to prison. How might we celebrate the solemnity and beauty of our music, of our poetry, our achievements in science and engineering, and of our liturgy and worship, when almost every day we put people to prison?
Prisons and prisoners are unsavory and discomforting contradictions to our claims of being made by God in the image of God, to our claims of being people of God, and to our claims of being possessed with the sublime beauty of being human.
For how could we be human if we could not be humane to another human? Even if other humans might seem visibly inhuman, the same is not a sufficient ground for us to lose our humanity when responding to their inhumanity. A human falling into the pits of being inhuman requires even more that we reach much more deeply into the recesses of our humanity, to respond as true humans, and as people of God.
We could not be true people of God if we cannot extend God?s love to another one that He loves. We cannot keep the faith of being a redeemed people if we cannot redeem one deemed to be wretched and irredeemable.
How can we claim that we believe in God, that we are God?s redeemed, if we cannot hear how others are loudly crying, wailing to God, to redeem them from their troubles? Many are crying ?Lord! Your are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living; give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me; bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name..? (Ps 142: 5-7a).
Are we hearing these cries?
We need to, because deafness to these cries is death to our humanity, inability to hear and be disturbed by these cries is a failure of our faith!
But, alas, being in prison need not be physical. We need not experience prison only by being bodily confined to four walls of concrete and steel. In fact, many of us are in prison most days that we live when we allow the constricting forces of greed, injustice and fear to rule our souls. We become prisoners in mind and in spirit when we allow moral courage to abandon us and to make pride and avarice rule how are live our days. We are in prison when our lives get dictated by schedules and commitments, by the need to succeed more than the need to remain faithful to our God. Many are freely frolicking in the streets but deeply in prison by prejudices, and spiritual vanity and moral arrogance. On the other hand, like St. Paul, some can be in dark prison cells, but freely fluttering in the heavens in full.
And so, many of us, those who may not be actually in prisons of walls and steel but in prisons of our depraved souls, are also crying to our God: ?Lord! Your are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living; give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me; bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name!?
And we cry to others around us, to ?please come visit me and help me make myself whole again as I search for real freedom and liberation of spirit!?
Who indeed are the prisoners among us?
Who are more free ? those inside or prisons, or those outside?
Who are the more miserable prisoners ? those physically confined, or those spiritually constricted?
This day, my friends, we might remember that perhaps ours is a world of prisons, and of prisoners of many kinds, that is but pure and simple responsibility to each other as one prisoner to another that we love each one, like how only God can love a prisoner.
We pray all these in the Name of the Christ who alone can break the chains that shackle our souls. Amen.