1 Keep loving each other like family. 2 Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. 3 Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place.
In this day of “#METOO” as well as “hate crimes” in many guises, the call to keep loving each other like family cannot be heard often enough. The writer of Hebrews reminds us not just to “remember” prisoners, but to put ourselves in their bodies and feel their bars and chains, their lack of freedom, their separation from loved ones. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, really hit home for me saying “Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.” If someone in your family is the victim of a crime you rush to their aid and their defense. That is what we should offer every stranger who seeks our hospitality, our welcome, our compassion.
Too often in our culture we blame the victim rather than the abuser, we blame the prisoner rather than a society that generates poverty, homelessness and mental illness. When we put ourselves in the other’s body (King James Version) we can’t help but reach out in kindness to those who are suffering.
By Kathleen Stolz
For Pondering & Prayer
Look at a news headline today about a crime (it shouldn’t be difficult to find one). Identify the person you feel is in the wrong and imagine being that person. Put yourself in their shoes, their childhood, their economic status, or anything else that helps you to really feel like YOU are in that person’s body. Take a few minutes to embrace yourself as the other person. Now step back into your own body and reflect on what that person’s life has been like for them to become the person they are today, committing the crime they have committed. Try to find a place in your heart to love them, just as they are.
Not every person who is imprisoned is guilty. Too often innocent men and women find themselves without proper legal counsel or facing unjust trials. Pray for the innocent ones who find themselves behind bars, possibly on death row. Go see the movie or read the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson to better understand.