Another of the Corporal Works of Mercy is to "visit the imprisoned" or to "ransom the captive". Visiting and ransoming, although both good, are really quite different things. Visiting someone leaves them in their current state while ransoming them takes them out of it. Jesus was not concerned about visiting people, but he was concerned about ransoming them. He was so concerned about ransoming us from the snares of Satan and sin that he died to set us free. Had he become man and not died and risen for us he would have just visited us. As Paul says, if that were the case our faith would be in vain and we would still be in our sins - a condition to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Jesus did much more than visit us.
And so, what should we, as followers of Christ, be about? Should we be visiting the imprisoned or ransoming the captives? Visiting someone in prison is certainly a good deed, a work of mercy. When we visit a prisoner we should always bring them the good news and help to ransom their soul from sin even if we cannot affect the imprisonment of their body. At the very least we should pray with them and assure them of God's eternal love.
Ransoming captives, although an archaic phrase, still has meaning and relevance today. Many people are held captive physically, spiritually, or emotionally. People who are being trafficked for sex, held as slaves within a household are being held captive. People dependent upon illegal drugs are held captive. People physically or emotionally abused are held captive. People addicted to pornography or any other sin are held captive.
For Reflection: The Corporal Work of Mercy to visit the imprisoned or ransom the captive is still relevant and necessary today. How am I living it out? How have I helped to set someone free? When have I visited someone in prison to bring them the good news?
Let us pray. Jesus, I thank you for doing so much more than visiting me. I thank you for dying to set me free. I want to follow your example and work with you to help set others free. Help me to see the captives I pass by every day.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.