"Perhaps we need to embrace a restorative justice approach — one that invites us to slow down, to listen deeply, and to discern the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit among us."
“This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”
This same command that God gave the three disciples present for Jesus’ transfiguration, he gives to us today.
God directs us to listen — but do we really? For example, let’s look at the prison system.
Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus urges us to care for those in prison, and stresses that “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
It was not until I sat down with someone who had recently been released from prison that I understood how far we have strayed from these teachings.
We call our prisons “correctional facilities,” but very little correction is done. People come out more broken than they were when they went in.
We call ourselves Christians, acknowledging that we are made in God’s likeness. Yet we are unwilling to acknowledge Christ when looking at others, including those who have been harmed by our criminal legal system. Why?
Is it because we have become like Peter, who busied himself making three tents — one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah — when Jesus presented himself to him? Have we, too, become so preoccupied by our established roles and mundane routines that we fail to take notice of Jesus when he comes to us in the form of our neighbor in need, broken and seeking our healing hands?
Perhaps we need to embrace a restorative justice approach — one that invites us to slow down, to listen deeply, and to discern the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit among us.
Sometimes we spend so much effort locking up a person who has caused harm that we forget the individuals and communities that end up being collateral damage to our current aggressive correctional methods. Restorative justice shows us a better way forward that not only brings dignity to all, but also provides the opportunity to heal in an environment that respects all parties.
I am sure there are many like me who are in awe of the three disciples who are chosen to be with Jesus on the mountaintop in today’s Gospel. We are drawn to what is good. We yearn to be close to Jesus’ shining face.
But are we open to the level of commitment — the level of listening — that elevates one to moments such as these?
During this time of prayerful reflection, let us make time to listen to what Jesus is guiding us to do, and then to do likewise.
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