I was in prison and you visited me. –Matthew 25:36
Jesus’ exhortation to visit those in prison is fascinating. It is fascinating because he makes no reference to the guilt or innocence of the ones imprisoned. The justice or miscarriage thereof that wound them up incarcerated seems to be of no consequence to Him. When we commit to visiting the incarcerated, we begin to discover why. Grace Cathedral’s jail ministry has for years visited men and women incarcerated in San Francisco County’s jails, offering the opportunity for group prayer and well as for parents to remain connected with their children while imprisoned. As we do this on a weekly basis, we discover an astonishing truth: we’re all in this together. The same temptations, challenges, and joys of life apply to all of us, no less and no more to individuals in the criminal justice system. Any of us, when pushed hard enough, can make poor choices or be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing dissolves barriers of judgment like visiting a person in prison and having a moment of real relationship. Jesus prayed before His passion that we all might be one, and when we visit one another in prison, we take one step closer to that divine dream.