Lent 11 ~ Freeing Prisoners


Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;

            with Your great power free those doomed to death.   ~  Psalm 79: 11

          There’s a superior at work who has given me nothing but grief for almost 20 years. Even though there have been times when he has reluctantly acknowledged the quality of my work, the underlying current of tension remained. A man governed by jealousy, pride and love for money, several times he has crushed me to the point of tears, and many more times when he has filled me with an equally crushing rage and hatred for him. There were others who were wounded by similar blows but they were not as severe as the ones I endured because all my other colleagues were Muslims, like this man, and I suspect that made him hold back a little. I being the only Christian in the organization, received the full brunt of it. I cried a lot about it to God because I suffered, not only from his viciousness, but from my own rage too.

          Then, one day at Mass, upset over something he had done, I saw the words, It is in his bloodline, appear in one of the Readings. That was when I realised that whatever it was that was making him this way came from very deep within, that it was likely intergenerational too. He might have needed a family tree healing prayer of some kind but honestly, I just couldn’t do it. That was beyond what I could manage.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You

          One year, God suddenly let me know that this man was in fact a prisoner. Until that moment of illumination, I never saw it that way. All I saw was his capacity for heartlessness. But once I knew, I also realised that God was calling me to the impossible – to pray for this superior. It was something I struggled so hard to do but eventually, I began to pray for him. Each time though, I had to ask God for the prayer because I could not love this man enough to pray my own prayers.

          And each time, God answered me.

          Still, there was one that stood out and which I will never forget.

Replace his blood with Yours

          That prayer was prayed many, many times over the years, through wounding-s and through times of tremulous peace between us. Many times too I took this man to the Heart of Jesus during Mass and during Adoration. There were times when the prayers came easy; often, I had to drag myself to it because I still could not get past my hurts and dislike of him. But over time, it became easier.

          These past 2 years, I began to sense a change in him. He began to be more civil towards me. Still, the unease remained. Nonetheless, towards the end of last year, it was clear that he was trying to change and that brought some relief to me because I was tired out from walking on eggshells around him.

          Just this afternoon, we had a brief conversation which made me see something about myself too. We had a virtual meeting and he told us that he had tested positive for Covid. Right after the meeting ended, I hurried to contact him to share a home remedy which I thought would help. He told his wife about it and then assured me he would give it a try. Our conversation ended with my comforting him,

Do not be afraid

          It struck me then how far I’ve come. That I didn’t have to think about it before giving that remedy to him, that I didn’t have to persuade myself or even force myself to go to him.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You

with Your great power free those doomed to death. 

          I know I’m not the only one who prayed. My closest friends here and elsewhere in my life, have carried my cross and prayed very hard for this man, and it is bearing fruit – freeing both him and me.

          Because as much as he was a prisoner, so was I too.

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