Bringing resurrection to recidivism

19_GiLAt Easter we remember how Jesus was accused of being a criminal; judged by an angry mob and corrupt officials; and violently and publicly killed. Those who called for his death believed it was just. It’s tempting for Christians to separate themselves from this crowd of people who wanted Jesus crucified. But it is very human to be swayed by the crowd – and almost all of us are guilty of judging and condemning someone else without knowing the bigger picture.

At Easter, we importantly – and ultimately – celebrate resurrection. The theme of resurrection in the Christian story is not insignificant. In fact, some would say it is the theme. The fact that Jesus was tortured and suffered, that he died on a cross in a display of humiliation and utter degradation is not actually the main point. Of course we commemorate Good Friday in our churches, but Easter falls on Sunday – the day we remember that we needn’t allow death to have the last word. On that day we choose to believe that love and resurrection will have the final say and win out over all.

When it comes to the rehabilitation of those incarcerated in our justice system, the relevance of this story of restoration is clear. To believe in redemption, in life after death – not necessarily physical death but death of the soul, the heart, the conscience – is an indispensable part of the Christian faith. It is the belief that true justice can only be realised through restoration of life.

This photo was taken at Lentara UnitingCare. The man in the middle, Kevin, receives assistance from the agency’s Communal Justice Pilot Project which provides social and material support to newly-released prisoners to equip them with life skills to survive ‘on the outside’ and break the cycle of recidivism.

As we reflect on the Easter story, we might ask ourselves – are we to be part of the crowd who calls for a person’s imprisonment, retribution or even death? Or the voice of hope which believes there is more to come – that love can ultimately conquer all in what was previously a story of pain, destruction and fear?

We can let Kevin be ‘sentenced’ to further struggle and possible re-imprisonment; or we can give him the gift of a second chance, believing that redemption is possible.

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