Third Sunday in Advent: December 11, 2005
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 or Luke 1:47-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
"God sent me to pardon all prisoners" (Isa 61:1 The Message). Whenever I read this passage from Isaiah, I think of two films. First is the story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent almost twenty years in prison before being released in 1985. Denzel Washington portrayed Carter in the 1999 film The Hurricane. Second is In the Name of the Father, a film about a petty robber from Belfast named Gerry Conlon, whom the British implicate and imprison for an IRA bombing of a pub that kills several people. The film shows Conlon as he is intimidated by the British police and as the police coerce Conlon and four of his friends into confessions. Gerry's father and other relatives in London are also implicated in the crime. Conlon spends fourteen years in prison while his father tries to prove his innocence with the help of a British attorney, Gareth Peirce. In the Name of the Father is a true story. Both of these stories flesh out the power of pardoning prisoners.
It is interesting to explore what pardoning prisoners entails. …