Christ the King
I know a very fine Catholic man, a recovering alcoholic, who visits Chester County Prison on a regular basis. He is someone who is keenly aware of God’s grace, forgiveness and the idea of redemption. He recently told the story about himself and other people who volunteer at the prison. The state mandates that such volunteers need state-mandated training on a regular basis. Recently at the training were men of all kinds of faiths: First Nation Medicine Men, Jewish, Christian, Catholic. Over 100 volunteers!
He said, “Prison ministry can be intimidating and overwhelming. But we do what you do, and try and do it well. MOSTLY it is not what we DO but what we ARE: We are a sign of hope in the midst of destruction.”
But one doesn’t necessarily have to go into a prison to visit those who are in prison. When people leave one prison, they often find themselves in another. They are disoriented while trying to adapt to society outside of the walls. Besides logistical issues, financial issues, environmental and family issues, many have trouble emotionally and mentally coping.
Martin E. P. “Marty” Seligman, Penn professor, and developer of a branch of Psychology called “Positive Psychology” has proposed for people with emotional mental health issues, that in order to recover, 5 things are needed:
Positive emotion — write down, every day at bed time, three things that went well, and why.
Achievement — more important than a person’s IQ, a person’s sheer determination is more critical to success.
Engagement — using your highest strengths to perform the tasks which you would perform anyway and easily.
Relationships — healthy human interaction with good friends and healthy family members.
Meaning — belonging to and serving something bigger than one’s self.
It’s interesting that, in today’s Gospel and soon afterwards after the Resurrection, do we not see Jesus doing similar things as recommended by Professor Siligman?
1. Positive emotion: Jesus says, “Do not be afraid”
2. Achievement – Jesus, “Forgives them for they do not know what they do.”
3. Relationships: “Woman there is your son; There is your Mother.” “Know that I will be with you always even to then end of the age.
4. Gives them Meaning: “Go and make disciples. Teach them what I have taught you. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
He wanted Mary and John and the 12 Apostles and the disciples to be a sign of hope in the midst of destruction.
Could just a thimble of this fullness be pleased to dwell in us?
In his book, Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, he tells another prison story about a woman named “Cat.” She was a successful Wall Street businesswoman, entrepreneur and venture capitalist who started a prison ministry that took the entrepreneurial skills of the men she met in prison and developed a course to hone those skills for good. Subsequent research found that men who went through the program has a significantly lower recidivism rate than those who did not participate. Cat did nothing different than use her god-given “highest strengths to perform tasks which (she) would perform anyway and easily.” Through this, she – like the King of Kings, brought a little bit of redemption to the Kingdom.