Carlos joined Homeboy Industries seven months ago. One of the biggest challenges that kept him from coming through the doors at Homeboy was unlearning the hate that he had been taught throughout his life in prison and his gang. From the moment he entered prison, it was predetermined who he could associate with and who was the enemy. His arrival at Homeboy flipped all this past experience on its head. The people he had always been told were his enemies were now the ones greeting him at the door, showing him how to roll dough in the bakery, and tutoring him toward completion of his GED. He said it was like a veil had been lifted from his eyes and suddenly, he saw the world in a completely different way.
In today’s reading, the Prophet Isaiah proclaims that we are called to “open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement.” What I have come to learn in my short time at Homeboy Industries is that it’s not only concrete prison walls that hold us captive. There are a thousand ways that we find ourselves in darkness. It is easy to find ourselves blinded by the division that embroils our country. Many of us remain blind to see how the social sins of institutional racism, xenophobia, and mass incarceration keep us in a dungeon of darkness.
And yet, we are privileged to have prophets like Carlos in our midst. Carlos and the many women and men of Homeboy Industries stand as living testaments to the world we hope for, a beloved community of kinship. They are the light breaking forth in the darkness. They remind us that we belong to one another. Their prophetic witness challenges us today, just like Isaiah’s did then. We must see them. We must hear their voices. Only then will we be able to bring forth justice to the nations.
- What social sins do I remain blind to?
- How am I kept captive by division and hatred?
- Who are the prophets in my midst that might help free me from my blindness and captivity?
Marcos Gonzales serves as the director of trauma-informed education at Chicago Jesuit Academy. His pursuit of a faith that does justice has taken him from the islands of Micronesia as a Jesuit Volunteer to the streets of Los Angeles working at Homeboy Industries as a case manager. He received his BA in theology and master’s in education from Loyola Marymount University and completed his master’s in social work at Loyola University Chicago.