The Father Waits

(from the 2010 Magnificat Lenten Companion)

At the State Penitentiary just outside our city, the Catholic inmates on death row receive Holy Communion on Tuesday mornings. The guard stationed high above must release an automatic lock on the heavy cell doors to allow each inmate to approach individually, security cameras trained on every move. From behind bulletproof glass, we pray together in preparation, then the inmate opens his hand to receive the Lord Jesus through a small portal not unlike an old-fashioned mail slot in the front door. We read a passage from Scripture and pray again silently, and the inmate returns to his cell. To the other inmates, this must appear as the ultimate in pointlessness. Why bother, when your days are numbered, the date of your execution draws inexorably nearer, and nothing short of a miracle could ever get you out of here alive? Is there any more meaningless existence than life on death row? Today's Gospel, the parable of the prodigal son, provides the answer. Even here, especially here in a place as soulless as death row, the Father waits and watches for his children to come to their senses. Jesus Christ turns the walls of a prison into a door to the Father, and we, along with our brothers who are dead, can come to life again.

Reflection based on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Melinda Knight

Almighty Father, you love never fails.
In my darkest moments, you wait to embrace me and
give me life again. Turn my steps away from sin and
show me the way home to you.

Today's suggested penance: Go to confession.