March 9, 2020
by George Butterfield
Creighton University's Law School Library - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Second Week in Lent
Lectionary: 230

Daniel 9:4B-10
Psalms 79:8, 9, 11 and 13
Luke 6:36-38

Praying Lent

Lent with All My Heart

Online Stations of the Cross

We live in such an individualistic society. We may be part of a church, club, or family but it is easy for many to disown the group when things are not as they should be. In our first reading, Daniel cries out to God. Daniel is a captive in Babylon because of the sins of the nation. He himself has done nothing wrong. He is described as a thoroughly righteous man. It might have been easy for him to distance himself from his people but notice how he identifies with them:

We have sinned, been wicked and done evil.
We have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets.
We are shamefaced even to this day.
We, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel, near and far, in all the countries to which you have scattered them because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, ... , for having sinned against you.
Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God, to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.

It can be fairly easy to get mad at our family or our church and begin to rail against "they" and "them." However, I have seen bishops apologize for the sins of the diocese, a diocese they weren't even in when those sins occurred. That is what a righteous person does. We are in this together and when any of us sins it falls upon all of us to own it and work to change what is happening. Quitting or ranting against them wasn't for Daniel. He can teach us a lot about how to be better community members.

R.    Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.

Clyde Thompson was doomed to death. He murdered several people before he was caught and sent to prison where he awaited execution in the electric chair. Although his sentence was later commuted to life in prison, he was doomed to a slow and painful death. While in prison, he killed two others. The warden nicknamed him "the meanest man in Texas." The prison chaplain called him "a man without a soul." He was too dangerous to keep in the general population of the prison so they made a solitary confinement unit out of an old morgue and placed him in it. The only thing they would give him to read was a Bible. It was a cruel joke but eventually he started to read it to prove how anyone who believed any of it was a fool. He became one of those fools. It transformed his life. He took correspondence courses in religion and journalism from Lee College, in Baytown, Texas, and wrote articles for religious publications.

Eventually even his worst detractors saw the radical change in his life. He was removed from solitary confinement and began to work with the other prisoners. After almost thirty years of confinement, Clyde was paroled from prison. He spent the remaining years of his life working with prisoners and serving as a minister, teacher, and superintendent of a Navajo Indian Children's home. This prisoner's sighing came before God and, doomed to death, the Lord's great power freed him. The Meanest Man in Texas, Clyde's biography, was published in 1984, five years after his death. "The meanest man in Texas" led hundreds, if not thousands, to reform their lives and live by faith in Jesus Christ.

I am so happy that the Lord does not deal with us according to our sins.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook