Jose got up to speak at the podium in a gym filled with teenagers. He is 37 years old. 20 of those years have been spent behind bars. He retrieves his first memory. “I’m five years old. And I keep standing in between my dad and my mom while he keeps beating her.” The father continues to swat the kid away, but Jose keeps returning. Finally, the father goes to the kitchen and gets the boiling pot of “frijoles” on the stove and dumps it on his son. The entire gym gasps. “All my skin peeled off. I didn’t go to the hospital, cuz my dad said, ‘Nobody snitches in this house.’” Jose is first arrested at ten years old, for selling drugs for his father. He returns home, doesn’t want to sell drugs anymore and so the father throws Jose out of the house. He is now eleven and homeless. He joins a gang.“I am grateful to my father for teaching me how not to be one,” Jose says. “I cherish my boys and tell them how much I love them. I play hide and seek. My boys taught me how cuz I never knew. I love them as I never was.”
Poet David Whyte tells us, “to remember the other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance.” The Risen Christ cannot be found among the dead. Instead, the resurrection locates us in the here and now. We are only saved, after all, in the present moment. None of us will live forever, but we can surely live “in the forever.” The Risen Life invites us to a full participation in our true inheritance—allowing ourselves to be taught the game of hide and seek when our childhood has been denied us.
- How is the resurrection of Christ calling you to be present in the moment—to be saved in the here and now?
Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world.