“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed His people.” (Luke 1:68)
Redemption, for a prisoner, is often seen only as what happens when we are set free from these bars and fences. The world beyond these walls is idealized, and often idolized. After years of separation and deprivation it is easy to think that redemption will come when you get out and are able to experience the ‘good life’ once again.
When people are released from prison, and are able to realize some of their goals and lusts, they often find themselves just as empty as they were when they were in prison. Many of them come back to prison not because they wanted too much, but because they wanted too little. The ‘good life’ wasn’t very satisfying. We dreamt small dreams, and when we seize the dream we are often just as empty as when we began.
The things of our world are ultimately not enough to satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts. We are finite creatures, and we are made to know and commune with an infinite God. There is nothing in this world that satisfies that need, and there is nothing that is supposed to. God made us to yearn and long for communion with God.
Prisoners, crime victims, combat soldiers, victims of serious illnesses… all people who have been through extreme life changing experiences often realize how empty life is without God.
God is right here in our midst, and God envisions dreams for us that are so much greater then anything we could ever dream on our own. God does not require us to be good enough, or holy enough, only for us to be willing enough. When we seek our fulfillment in this world, we will always be empty, and when we seek our wholeness in God, we will always be filled.
Prepare the way, O Zion, your Christ is drawing near! Let every hill and valley a level way appear. Greet one who comes in glory, foretold in sacred story. (Hymn 65)