Jesus, in his lifetime, identified himself, very especially, with the poor and the oppressed; the outcast and the under privileged. When crucified, who were on his right and left? To whom was he still reaching out? To two criminals!
Meeting Jesus in prison necessitates viewing both sides of the same coin.
Spin up heads to reveal our crowned Saviour and Redeemer who ‘bore our griefs’ and ‘took upon himself all our afflictions’. The oneness of Christ with each and every person tells me I meet Christ in the ‘potential for righteousness’ of every human being.
Spin up tails and find that our living Lord’s ministry of holistic healing and reconciliation continues. Yes, even within the de-humanising environment of a correctional centre!
Christ is there in the fellowship of a growing faith community in their everyday words and deeds as they struggle to understand and come to terms with the nature of God’s amazing love, mercy and grace for them; as they strive to turn the other cheek and love their enemies; and as they go the extra mile or give freely to another.
Christ is there in one inmate’s ministry of supplying Christian literature and CDs throughout Queensland prisons so that others may come to know and believe. Many tithe their $11 a week earnings.
Christ is there when a prisoner gets bashed for making a stance for equity and social justice, and when others hoard the set rations of breakfast cereal. Christ is there in the holistic healing of mind, body and soul after years of substance abuse or enormous guilt issues – anywhere there is restoration of a sense of self, the taking of responsibility and reconciliation with family members and communities.
“There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.
… we are not asked to judge … Christ is judge.” (The Interpreter’s Bible page 563)
We are commanded to love and serve our Lord.
Trish Milne is Chaplain to Maryborough Correctional Centre and UCA Chaplain to St Stephen’s Private Hospital.
Photo : Prison chaplain Trish Milne