“I was in Prison and You Visited Me…”
Thirty years ago less than five hundred people lived in Cancun, Mexico. Today more than a million residents stroll the white sandy beaches and work in the hotels and restaurants. But amidst the success of the new tourist hot-spot, crime rose and with it c
by Benjamin Cieply, LC | Source:
“At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’” (Mt 25:35-36).
– Mother Teresa.
Thirty years ago less than five hundred people lived in Cancun, Mexico. Today more than a million residents stroll the white sandy beaches and work in the hotels and restaurants. But amidst the success of the new tourist hot-spot, crime rose and with it came the need for a local prison.
C.E.R.E.S.O, Cancun’s local prison, detains a hundred of the region’s worst criminals. There are thieves, arsonists, vandals, murderers, and so forth, but at the end of the day, all of them are in need of love.
Last year meditating on what Christ’s words, a faithful Catholic of Cancun was moved to visit the inmates. Mr Ruvalcaba wasn’t sure of the reaction he would receive; he just wanted to assure them that no matter what crime they had committed, God still loved them. Reconciliation and hope could yet be found on the horizon.
Once he had invited the inmates together, he asked them, “How many of you have been insulted before?” Several raised their hands, and he responded, “Christ as well.” Again he asked, “And how many of you have been shoved or spat upon?” And again, several of them raised their hands and he said, “Christ as well.” Finally he asked, “And how many of you have been imprisoned?” This time all of them raised their hands, and Mr Ruvalcaba exclamed, “Christ as well!”
Christ was innocent, and yet he experienced the suffering of those punished for their crimes. In this way, Christ draws near to even the worst of criminals.
On another occasion Mr Ruvalcaba gave each of the inmates a rolled-up scroll tied with a golden thread – it was a letter from God. Each letter was personal and meant to help the inmates reflect upon God in their lives. The inmates were encouraged to write a response to God – below are a few excerpts:
Letter #1 -
“Father, I feel the need to know you because YOU know me. After all, you created me, and every time I hear about you I want to know you more. Show me your ways and teach me to love you! Never allow me to wander astray.”
Letter #2 -
“Now I understand that you have brought me to this prison so that I would finally wake up to the reality that the REAL prison was my evil thoughts and the errors which I committed.
“For this reason, Father, I ask for your forgiveness. I have cried because I have made you suffer and I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”
Letter #3 -
“Lord Jesus, above all I want you to know how much I miss when you and I spent time together, like a Father and son. You know, Daddy, I miss you so much, and I need you. Forgive me for being so sinful – I am sorry for my sins! Forgive the evil that I have done. I would give everything, EVERYTHING, for you to transform my life into a gift for YOU, the All-powerful!”
-Information taken from a personal testimony, May 2007. Mr Rodolfo Ruvalcaba volunteers for an apostolate in Cancun called “City of Joy.”