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Be Mindful Of Prisoners

Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time (A)

My dear encountered couples:

We are told in our reading from the letter to the Hebrews: “Be mindful of prisoners as if you were sharing their imprisonment.”

I would wager that most people have never visited in a prison. There is the myth going around that prisoners have it made. They are housed, clothed, and fed well, with sufficient heat in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer, inside and out places to exercise, and, of course, colored TV. In varying degrees, these conditions do exist in our prisons. But don’t get carried away with thinking the inmates have it better than you.

Losing one’s privacy, freedom, and right of decision making is next to the worse thing in the world. Prison is no picnic. It can be lonely despite the crowd, frightening, and very depressing. The days can be long, the years eternal. Maybe you say they deserve it. Maybe so, except those innocent, mistakenly convicted. Have you ever broken the law? Have I? Have you ever sinned? Have I? Of course!

Then why aren’t we in prison? Is it because we haven’t broken the law of the state? We’ve only broken God’s law. Say that to yourself sometime and see how odd it makes you feel. “I’m not in jail because I haven’t broken any law of the state. I have only broken God’s law.” We know which is worse to break, don’t we? And yet we keep doing it; we keep breaking God’s laws. Don’t we all deserve prison? That’s why Jesus came: to keep us out of prison, to release prisoners. “Be mindful of those in prison,” says our letter to the Hebrews, “as if you were sharing their imprisonment.” Let’s be sure to pray for prisoners often. They are our brothers and sisters. They are us.

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