Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 4: Year 1
“So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” (Luke17:10)
I don’t consider myself a worthless slave. But I do have a sense of decency and duty. If I work for someone or even a large organization, whereby I am compensated in agreement with what was negotiated, I feel an obligation to fulfill my legal duties. But more than that, If in a strange situation and I witness what I suspect is wrong-doing, I feel I have a moral obligation to stand up for whoever is victimized, that is, to stand up for decency.
As a military enlisted man I was taught that if, and when, we captured prisoners of war, once we have reduced their ability to be combatants, we were to imprison them and care for them. We were not to torture them or in any way mistreat them. I believe the same is true for our police personnel today. We need the police because we have bad actors in our communities. But police have a responsibility for decency and duty also. I think the knee in the neck for nine minutes is wrong. I think harassment of citizens is also wrong for police persons who are sworn to “protect and serve.” Protect and serve sure sounds like decency and duty to me.
Whether we are store clerks, accountants, doctors, school teachers, trash collectors, welders, farmers, priests, or any vocation, we have a call of decency and duty. We are not slaves and we are not worthless. I don’t think Luke meant this in the way that we might interpret it today. Understanding gets lost in translation. But there are things that we ought to do, and not do. First of all, we need to recognize that as we interact with people, we must see them as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and therefore children of God.
Whether a person is being arrested or taken prisoner of war, we need to stand them up, look them in the eyes in our search for the Spirit of God. Yes, we put ourselves at risk if we are not careful. But if we are afraid of people because they differ from us then maybe to protect and serve all in our community is not our call.
I think we should do what we have agreed to do within loving reason. I know of a young man, Doug, who was much sought after by delivery men because he could be counted on to be on time and proficient in his duties. He was sought after on a daily basis because he was on time and worked hard. When compared to other workers who were often late and lazy, the driver – delivery men wanted Doug. Doug would always say, I have done only what I am supposed to do, nothing more, and nothing less. I thank God for the Doug’s of the world.
Let us live to love, more than just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John