Cell-Block Salvation: A Prison Homily

Some folks find answers in the Bible. That makes me jealous. When I open the Bible, I find more questions than answers. Today’s gospel passage provides a good example.

When Jesus surprises his listeners by praising a dishonest thief, he’s called to task. In response, he points out that that people who break the rules tend to get more accomplished than those who play by the rules. Now, mind you, he’s not saying that it’s okay to break the rules, he’s just pointing out that some folks stop at nothing to get what they want.

That’s where the discussion with the Pharisees ends but, as usual, it leaves me with a question: Why?

Why did that man in the parable break the rules?

No doubt, he was dishonest, but he was also desperate. So let’s explore this part of the story a bit. Let’s start by asking ourselves: What does it feel like to be desperate?

For some of us in this room, desperation is what you feel when you get thrown into solitary confinement. I once heard an inmate describe it as feeling like you’re being suffocated. If that’s the case, that level of desperation will make a man do things he’d normally not do.

Now let’s go a step further and ask ourselves: If desperation feels like the inside of an isolation cell, what does it a taste like inside your mouth?

Yes, you heard me right, What does desperation taste like? I’m not sure of the answer to that question, but I’m willing to wager that it tastes a bit like blood, as in blood on a busted lip.

I’ve never been in fight that drew blood, but some of you have, and guess what? So was Jesus, your Lord and Savior.

Yes, you might say he took it on the lip, but for him, the taste of desperation was more than blood on a busted lip, it was a stream of blood pouring from a crown of thorns, drenching his face, flowing into his eyes, across his lips and down on his chest.

Hear me out on this: that blood not only carried the taste of desperation, it also carried the taste of love, a desperate love: a love determined to spring the door of every isolation cell deep inside your soul; a mighty love that broke the iron-clad rule of self-preservation; a love powerful enough to break the chains of death and shove aside the stone at the entrance of a tomb; a heavy-duty love destined to swing open the Gates of Heaven itself!

Such is the power of God’s desperate love, God’s determined, redemptive love for you, for me, for each one of us here today gathered at this table, this table of Christ’s Body…and Blood.

12 / 21 / 2023
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