Christianity and The Least of Us

The series of political firestorms about Planned Parenthood/Komen Foundation, contraception coverage in insurance plans, and Senator Santorum’s views of gay people have led to many public and private debates about what Christianity really means, what it requires of believers and whether it is a good or bad force in society.

This week’s Economist article about the remarkable work of Jesuit Priest Greg Boyle could thus not be better timed. Father Boyle’s “Homeboy Industries” in Los Angeles has turned around the lives of thousands of gang members. Many of Boyle’s flock have committed terrible crimes, had terrible crimes committed against them, or both. Heart-killing time in prison figures prominently in their histories. Most people couldn’t reach these lost souls. Indeed, most people wouldn’t even try, even if the commandments of their faith so instructed them.

On this Sunday morning, consider doing something for Homeboy Industries and yourself by purchasing Father Boyle’s moving book Tattoos on the Heart. It’s both a vivid profile of urban gang life and an inspiring example of what faith in action can do for economically impoverished and emotionally desolate human beings. You need be neither a Catholic nor a Christian to be touched by the stories and observations of a profoundly good man who “seeks a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment of how they carry it.