faces of our shared humanity

IMAGO DEI

There are many titles given to those who are / have been imprisoned. We know them for their court cases and for their sentencing. However, inmates / former inmates are also the people who are quickly forgotten. When we do happen to remember their existence, we call them by the name of their sins: murderer, rapist, hacker, predator, thief. We remember the person, but don’t care to remember their humanity. We remember their shortcomings, but forget their names.

Through scripture, we learn of the importance of being named. Abram is renamed as Abraham. His wife, Sarai, is now known as Sarah. Jacob becomes Israel. Solomon is blessed as Jedidiah. Simon is set a part as Peter. Saul, the executioner of Christians, is transformed by a vision. Now he’s none other than the Apostle Paul…

These, of course, are only a handful of possible examples. Though the message they offer is clear: God presents people with new names when it is revealed that they are loved by the Lord and have been chosen to bring forth a new mission. Each mission is unique, but the outcome of each is for the salvation of souls. And we too have been gifted with our own missions. When we had received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we had also received new names and the sacred task to live out our lives as disciples of Jesus. Through the sacraments, we have become adopted heirs to the heavenly throne; the beloved Children of God.

Regardless of our sins, we are, truly, beloved. When God listens to our prayers, He does not know us as anything other than the Children that have been made in His own likeness and image. God knows that we are imperfect, but God also knows that that is the reason we need access to a fountain of grace. Our shortcomings have not sentenced us to abandonment from God’s love, mercy, and compassion. In great love and mercy, God does not forget our names.

In our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ, it is our duty to obey all that the Lord teaches. We are to walk in the Way of the Lord and to be preachers of God’s goodness. Let us praise the Lord for His mercy, that we are not known for our sins. And let us walk in the Way of the Lord, recognizing each person for their God given worth and dignity. Let us see our shared humanity with all members of the human family. Let us see the face of Jesus Christ in all who are being forgotten and ostracized. Especially those who are on death row and those who have already been executed by the state.