Saturday, October 10, 2009
Imagine being away from your family at the age of 16 for a crime against the ones you love. Imagine being in juvenile jail with no contact with the outside world or your family for days, weeks, even months. Imagine sleeping on a metal bed sheet and having it to call it your bed. Byron, jake, and keshawn take me through their stores.
I was nervous my first day volunteering at the juvenile prison not because of the kids who might be there (I practically grew up with friends who went to prison) but because the Holy Spirit was using me to bring the message of Christ into a place where most people would dread to go. Now, however you feel about teens being in prison or “DO THE CRIME DO THE TIME” theory, it doesn’t change the fact that we as Catholic Christians should recall Matthew 25:36, "I was in prison and you came to visit me"… It doesn’t change the fact that we as Catholic Christians have a corporal works of mercy obligation to fulfill. It doesn’t change the fact that we as Catholic Christians are the light of the world and are called to bring hope to people’s lives. I decided to take on this challenge.
Every Sunday after Mass, I head over to the Indiana Juvenile Correctional Facility and wait for whoever is interested in talking about faith. Being the urban teens that they are, some take it as a joke or some don’t really care. We start off with a prayer and read the Roman Catholic Lectionary for Sundays Liturgy. They still chuckle away and get distracted of the other inmates throwing them signs and laughing at them for going to a bible study. I switch the gears of the group and look them in the eyes and say,” just because you had a hard life doesn’t make you better than me, I am just like you, I have sinned and now I need a savior.”….. “Let’s cut the mushy stuff, let me hear your story.”… So they begin… Possession of an armed weapon, running away, smoking marijuana, divorced parents, fighting in school, gang affiliations, holding their best friends life in their hands as they watch him die from a shot to the head…. They tell me with tear filled eyes,” all I want is for God to love me and forgive me”… After we talk about how merciful our God truly is and how much he loves them, they sense a little peace.
So what’s the difference between me (you) and them?......NOTHING! Every time we sin, we cuff our hearts close, we close that cell to our mind and we sleep on spiritual metal bed sheet and all we yearn for is the *key* savior. All we yearn for is peace and freedom in the heart of Christ. I’ve realized in this world there are many people who have eyes that cannot see and it will be the darkness that leads them to the light. I saw my own captivity through the stories of these juveniles but I also experienced my freedom in Jesus through these kids. Praise be to God, that he continues to reveal Himself through the daily experiences.
PS I am no way trying to promote releasing Juveniles into society without proper disciplinary actions for their consequences. However, I am trying to challenge you to be more aware of Jesus in your daily life.