Mary Ann McGivern: Pray to St. Barabbas for released prisoners

(NCR Online) When I got the job, some years ago, as director of a re-entry program for men and women being released from prison, a friend called to say, “I will pray to St. Barabbas for your success.”

St. Barabbas? I laughed. She meant St. Dismas, the thief on Jesus’ right hand. As generous as the calendar of saints has been, I’ve never seen Barabbas on it (nor Dismas for that matter). I laughed and forgot about it.

But then, as I interviewed inmates getting ready for their release from prison, as I grew to understand the enormity of their needs, I began to imagine Barabbas.

Jerusalem has several levels. Tourists shop underground, amid crowded, colorful stalls. It’s cooler that the street and well-lit. Barabbas would have been chained to a stone wall on a deeper level, in a dank cell, pitch-black but for torches the guards carried.

Imagine him suddenly being unchained and dragged into the sunlight. His clothes would be ragged and stinky. He would be confused, guards not being in the habit of explaining things to prisoners. The guards probably didn’t understand his release themselves, captains not being in the habit of explaining things either. [More]


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