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BREAD AND WINE THROUGH LENT REFLECTING ON HUNGER AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
WEEK 1 MARCH 5-MARCH 12—LENT AND THE HIDDEN COST OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Christianity is an odd religion in that the central human figure, Christ, is executed by the state. We do not see that in any other faiths: Buddha died of food poisoning at 80 and the Prophet Muhammad died of natural causes at 63.
It should mean something to Christians, then, that an execution is at the center of the faith. One part of that meaning could have something to do with those who were a part of the process—the prosecutor, the judges, the witnesses, and executioners. The process of execution led them all to some form of ruin: Judas, the government cooperator was torn asunder; Peter, called to be a witness, denied Christ; Caiaphus, the prosecutor, was so tortured he tore at his clothes; Pilate, the person who denied clemency, was tortured by the decision; and even the Centurion guard at the execution itself cried out at the injustice he saw.
These broken people of the gospels foreshadow a terrible cost hidden within our current use of the death penalty.
In modern America we leave the job of looking a man or woman in the eye and telling him or her they chosen to die to jurors-paid very little—and it is a haunting decision, that haunts them all their lives.
Death is different. Capital cases chew up many of those involved—the families of the victims, the prosecutors, the defense, the guards and jailers who oversee the execution.
The characters in the story of Lent are people who are very real in their strengths and weaknesses. It must mean something that they are shown in the gospels as tortured by being a part of the machinery of death. The question left to us by this aspect of the gospel is nothing less than this: Setting all else aside, is the death penalty worth the cost to these innocents, the citizen-jurors and dutiful workers?
Philip Workman at his final meal requested a vegetarian pizza be giving to the homeless—think about the number of homeless who can be fed by the money we spend on the death penalty?
Scriptures: Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-7 Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11. During the forty days of Lent skip a meal a day and give the money to a homeless person, food bank, or soup kitchen.
O God, your son Jesus Christ endured all the temptations and trials of human life. As we follow Christ during Lent, instill in us the love for all our neighbors, especially those without enough to eat and those on death row. Amen.
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