Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 13:1-8; Mark 6:14-29)
Sometimes a prayer is uttered for prison reform. The person who makes it has a finger on a festering sore in the United States. There are over two million people imprisoned here. This country also has the largest per capita number of prisoners in the world. Most of the imprisoned are not convicted of the crimes for which they were originally jailed. Rather plea bargaining is typically done whereby the district attorney offers the apprehended person a reduced sentence if the person pleads guilty. This happens whether or not the person has done anything wrong. The exhortation in Hebrews today to be mindful of the imprisoned sounds especially cogent here.
The other exhortations of the reading can be taken as a remedy for the appalling number of prisoners. Whether or not people have perpetrated the crimes for which they are imprisoned, there are a large number of crimes committed. At the root of these crimes are often found “love of money,” the abandonment of marriage vows, and forgetting the moral lessons taught in youth. Addressing these sources should draw society closer together. Everyone then should develop a sense of responsibility for the good of all.
As Hebrews repeatedly reminds us, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We want to love him, to imitate him, and to teach him. Whether people believe in him or not, he will draw our society together in care for one another. He certainly will bring fulfilment beyond money, sex, and illusory teachings.