What I learned from prison inmates

20160531-02“I was employed as a merchandise inspector, that is, to control the quality, quantity and weight of goods, but for corporate reasons I had been fired. I lost everything: my job, family and dignity. After a few months my wife sent me a separation letter, taking with her my five-year old daughter. What’s more, after having followed the advice of my father-in-law, I was sued for swindling, bribery, and criminal conspiracy. Actually, I hadn’t done anything! I felt so much shame also for my loved ones, and infinite anger! I asked myself, where is that God who proclaims to be good and instead allows similar injustice?

I was in jail for 15 days, out of which five were in isolation, enclosed in a cell of 2×2 meters, deprived of everything: the freedom to open a window, to see or speak with anyone. Then, when I got out of the isolation cell, I had to face pushers, drug addicts, rapists, and robbers. They were men.

In jail I was respected by all because they were certain – even without knowing me  – that I was completely innocent and that I shouldn’t have been put in that place. It was their way of restoring the dignity I had been stripped of. I learnt a lot from the convicts.

When I was on parole, my relatives convinced me to participate in a Mariapolis, saying that we were going for a four-day holiday. I met a grandma with very white hair who spoke about God who is Love, precisely to me who had strongly doubted that good God.  A new and immense world lit up before me, as if I already had met it, but had never experienced it before. I realized that to be able to walk along the path of love, we cannot forego what I then called suffering and which I now identified with the suffering of Jesus on the Cross. When we live in deepest pain, we are more prepared to listen to God who gives us a greater and fuller life.  Today I no longer hold any grudge against my ex-wife, father-in-law and daughter who never wanted to see me

I was fully absolved of the charges, because three years later they discovered that I had absolutely nothing to do in the lawsuits filed against me.

I could not keep to myself what life had taught me and felt the great desire to share it with others, especially the youth. I started with five boys aged 11/12 who knew nothing about faith, or their parents. I started by playing soccer for hours, and then upon accompanying them home, asked them if they wanted to do a simple act of love towards the family.

Today these young boys have grown up and some have entered the employment world, but above all, also they wanted to donate in turn to others what they have received, bringing the certainty of God’s love to many. I will never stop thanking God for having given me the chance to love without prejudice, and meeting Him who is Love, and who loves each one of us personally, and that we, his children, are all equal.”

(Erasmus – Italy)

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