The articles that inspired this post were written several months ago, but seem particularly appropriate for today, Palm Sunday. Last November, the Los Angeles Times published a two-part series about the California state prison hospice, and the struggles of John Paul Madrona, an inmate pastoral care worker, to make amends for the murder that resulted in his incarceration. In December, the Times published a follow-up piece about the murder victim, Tracy Takahashi, and the reactions of his brother, Dean, to the original series of articles.
"I think it is not up to me to forgive," [Dean Takahashi] said. "It's not for my side to offer redemption - that has to come from within ... But I will say this: The path that [Madrona] is on, that path is far from hopeless. It is a good path. Whether he is inside the prison or out, I want him to stay on that path. That is what I ask of him."
What are we celebrating today if not these attitudes? My Brother gave his life to show us what love means. This truth does not diminish his nature, it tells us everything we need to know about our Parent. They tell us that life is never over until it's over; and it's never over. Every moment is an opportunity to redeem ourselves; to live with hope, generosity, compassion, empathy; to find our "good path" and run with it to infinity and beyond. We are true children of the Creator, and we are meant to love all of our brothers and sisters with the same passion that we remember today.
"Our brother calls us to love, love God, love your neighbor, love. How hard is that? What are you afraid of? If he was willing to die to love you, what’s your excuse for not loving those you fail to understand, those you despise, those you hate? ... Our brother died and rose so that we might all be one people, one community. The words and ideas in your head cannot change the reality of your heart and soul. We are all one people, one community. You may not like that truth, but you cannot outrun it forever."