“God Doesn’t Make Junk” – it was a phrase on a poster depicting a child who was poor and in a rural setting. The poster was on a wall in a farmhouse in Appalachia where I was staying during a service experience while I was in college. That phrase continues to resonate with me decades later. Every human life has value and purpose. This is why I drive over a hundred miles on a Thursday night to spend an hour with men who are incarcerated in state prison offering a session where we pray and discuss the upcoming Sunday’s Scripture readings for Mass. At first glance, the efficiency of this activity appears to be lacking – I will spend more time in my car than with the men but don’t let the optics fool you. I gather with men who are searching for a different path and direction in life. Quite a few of the men have expressed that being sent to prison saved them. They were on a destructive path that was leading to death. Prison may stop the destructive process and hold people accountable for their actions but it can’t make a person change. The change needs to come from within the person but change is hard and messy. Who will journey with them along the way?
While he was dying on the cross, Jesus offered salvation to a man crucified next to him. The man was being executed as a criminal but God never saw him that way. God created that man with unique talents and gifts to share with the world but somewhere along the way, he made choices that took him far away from God’s vision and calling for his life. But God’s love and forgiveness are endless and so as he was dying, he was offered another opportunity to be with God. This is why I drive to rural south Jersey to be with men who are looking for an opportunity to be with God…because God doesn’t make junk.