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Go Pay Him a Visit

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Go Pay Him a Visit

You can see the face of Jesus Christ.

I know that sounds like a really extreme statement, and that’s because it is. When you
have seen the face of Christ and have truly encountered Him, you are never the same. It’s
impossible to leave that experience seeing the world as you did before. Nothing is ever the same,
but it is the most welcome and beautiful change imaginable. It’s an experience that you never
forget, and it’s an experience that is available to us all. Jesus tells us how we can have this
experience in Matthew 25:34-40. When we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome
the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the ill, and visit the imprisoned, we care for and encounter
Christ Himself.

Jesus was well acquainted with what it was like to live as someone society saw as a
criminal. He faced constant rejection, scrutiny, and judgement. Many people wanted nothing to
do with Him. He faced the dread and agony of an approaching execution date. He was arrested.
He felt the weight of chains and shackles. He was detained and beaten by Roman officers. As He
carried the cross to Golgotha, He was spit on and mocked. Travelers coming into Jerusalem
walked by Him on the cross and stared in morbid curiosity. His executioners wanted it to be a
spectacle, and ensured that travelers from all parts of the Empire could read the charges that cost
Him His life: Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum. Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.

Jesus knows so intimately the pain and suffering that our brothers and sisters who are
incarcerated encounter every day. Because He knows this suffering, He knows how important it
is that we care for and love our brothers and sisters on the inside. That is precisely why He calls
us to do that exact thing. The love that we shower on His children who are incarcerated is love
that we shower directly onto our Savior. Their faces are His. Their suffering is His. His light lives
within each and every single one of them. He gives us the gift of being able to encounter that
light and love. We get to look upon His holy face every time we go inside. He wants us to
experience this powerful encounter so desperately that He– the creator of the universe, the King of heaven, the Savior of the world– asks us to do something for Him. How can we deny
Him?

Incarceration is endemic in our society. Every day, our brothers and sisters are denied
their dignity, are abused, and experience unimaginable suffering at the hands of our criminal
justice system. There is so much change that must be made; when we look at it from afar, it is
overwhelming and can seem impossible to overcome. But we can overcome, one letter, one visit,
one prayer at a time. We can stand in solidarity and advocate for our brothers, sisters, fathers,
mothers, friends, and loved ones on the inside. Jesus Christ is living with them and within them.

Please go pay Him a visit.

Bellah Edmiston is a junior in college studying Social Work and Spanish. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of individuals who are incarcerated and for the abolition of the death penalty. Her passion for serving individuals experiencing incarceration began with her love for her family and friends on the inside. She joined the Catholic Church in 2021, and lives in Texas with her husband. 

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