Sharing a previous post from 2012 while traveling this week, be blessed!
Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in L.A., writes of compassion, redemption and the ‘slow work of God’ in his book, Tattoos on the Heart. Providing powerful snapshots of his 20+ year ministry among gang members in Los Angeles, Father Boyle takes us where our fears may never allow us to go and shows us what hope amidst despair (seasoned with lots of perseverance) can do.
Father Boyle is Love in action to a community most people would rather just transplant straight to prison — but he sees their value as beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Creator. Young men and women experience redemption and new opportunities at Homeboy Industries (‘Jobs not Jails’) where tough love is available 24/7.
Although after a particularly major screw-up, Fr. Boyle writes: “Normally, I’d want to throttle this kid and give him the ‘what for.’ I manage something I rarely can. I morph into Mother Teresa AND Gandhi.”
Fr. Greg’s raw honesty will move your heart.
There are many success stories in the book. I especially liked the hilarious description of three former gang members visiting First Lady Laura Bush at the White House when one of them forgets his brand new suit pants, but what has stuck with me for more than a year is how Father Boyle’s chapter entitled “Success” is about everything but what we would define as successful outcomes.
Success in the gang-wars of L.A. requires a paradigm shift in thinking, as Fr. Boyle shares challenging stories: after losing two sons to violent deaths, one mother encounters the shooter of her son in the ICU ward where she works, then prays for him to live because ‘I don’t want his mom to go through what I have.’
No bullet can pierce Father Greg’s vision for restored and renewed youths in L.A, even though there’s so much pain and so much death, because his is the vision of God’s love for ALL PEOPLE (even gang members who point guns at us and each other.)
“Our best selves tell us that ‘there but for the grace of God…’ and that, in the end, there is no distance, really, between us and them. It is just us. Our best and noble hope is to imitate God we believe in. The God who has abundant room in God’s heart for us all.” Father Gregory Boyle, S.J.
Virginia : )