“He sat down opposite the treasury and observed the crowd that put money into the treasury. Many rich people put large sums in it. But a poor widow came and threw two mites there, which make a farthing. Then, he called his disciples and told them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed with everything she had, all she had for living.”
It is a passage from the Gospel of Mark, which has become a concrete action these terrible days after the earthquake that devastated central Italy. Because there are times when one who gives everything he has, albeit little, is a nobler gesture than that of the people who give away a part of their abundance.
Once again, the “last”, the outcasts of our society, convicted for crimes in court and condemned by an approach that ghettoizes and as “unrecoverable” whoever has made a mistake. A slap in the face of the prejudices.
Inside the Badu ‘e Carros prison, in Sardinia, the echo of the earthquake was perceived only through the media. The island that gave birth to the nuraghic civilization, in fact, is one of the least seismic Italian territories; but the earthquake just across the sea has also involved the hearts of seventy prisoners, who have decided to lend a hand. Not being able to go out, the only way was an economic contribution, but looking in their pockets, they found little there. That little has become “everything”, and a collection began among the inmates in high security regime.
Everyone gave what he could: one or two euros. Someone perhaps even less. But each of those euros (628 for the sake of precision) has great value when compared to the half a million donated by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, who also made a noble and certainly useful action.
The man came out in prison, his ability to go beyond the quota, to feel part of a common world. For many prisoners, giving up those pennies meant precluding the possibility to buy a pack of cigarettes or some kind of food inside the penitentiary; a piece of freedom “given” to those who have lost homes and their loved ones. A remarkable gesture…
“A noteworthy sign of attention to the suffering of the others”, as Gianfranco Oppo, Guarantor of prisoners’ rights, defined it. “The rebuttal that even people who have committed very serious crimes preserve a healthy part inside themselves, which should be enhanced to be able to take that re-education path, which then should be the ultimate goal of the prison.”
“The man is not his errors,” Father Oreste Benzi used to say in his tireless apostolate towards the last. He was with convincing prisoners that it was possible to start again. Father Benzi’s words are scandalously topical at present: “The convict is a good the society lacks. A good we lack, which needs to be liberated.” A reminder that today, exactly the day of the Jubilee of the Volunteers and of Mercy Operators, sounds like a warning for the censors and a reminder to all those who dedicate their lives to the service of the last.