by Dr. Ansel Augustine
from the National Black Catholic Congress newsletter
Matthew 25:36 states, “naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” On Saturday, August 9, 2014, I had the opportunity, along with Sr. Judy Gomilla, to lead a retreat for about 150 men incarcerated at the Rayburn Correctional Facility outside of Bogalusa, LA. As the retreat went on, I discovered some of the men were my relatives, others were from my school or neighborhoods, but many were from churches (black and white) here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Either way, the men that I met on this retreat were men of God that made mistakes (as we all do) that they are doing time for. After talking with many of these men, I felt like I was talking with some of my friends from my neighborhood or to some of my church members. Their grasp of spirituality was deep and their thirst for God’s Word was great. I left being fed by these men of God and look forward to going back to minister to, and with, them.
It is easy for us to get “comfortable” with our lives as people of faith and forget about those that may not regularly grace the inside of our churches with their presence. It is easy for us to judge others because they sin differently than us and not think of them worthy of our love and attention because they do not fit into our “clique” of holy folk. But just as we are looking at them, God is looking at us. Remember, the Word says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ’Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7. We, as people of God, are challenged by our faith, Pope Francis, but most importantly, by Jesus Christ to bring God’s love to the marginalized. We must remember, it could have been us in the places where some of these people are. God has gifted us with the opportunities that we have and it is our responsibility to use our resources to share with those that are in need. Is that not what our faith teaches us?…