Thursday, 6 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about how God tested the faith of Abraham, by asking him to bring his son with him to the Mount Moriah, and then sacrifice Isaac, his son, on that mountain to Him. Certainly we must have been wondering, why did the Lord do such a thing? And why did He ask such a request from Abraham?

It was not recorded how Abraham personally felt about such a strange and outrageous request from the Lord. Nonetheless, as parents certainly should know, he must have been shocked initially as he heard the Lord asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac to Him. Isaac had been the son whom the Lord promised to him, as the one through whom God would bless him as the father of many peoples and many nations. And then, why would He suddenly just withdraw His promise in that manner?

Yet, Abraham remained faithful and true to the Lord, despite his possible doubts and uncertainties. He obeyed the Lord and followed His commands, listening to His will and brought Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed. When Isaac himself asked his father on the whereabouts of the lamb to be sacrificed, Abraham told him, “God shall provide.”

In all of these, Abraham believed that God had plans for him and His will ought to be done no matter what. After all, who is man to presume to know all about God’s plan for them? Abraham trusted in God and kept his faith in Him, the same faith which he had ever since he was first called by God from his homeland, and following that call to walk in the path of God.

And God rewarded Abraham for his faith, as He saw just how genuine his faith and devotion to Him was. Abraham did not let his personal desires and human and worldly concerns to undermine or affect his faith and decision. He placed his faith in God first and foremost above everything else. That is why, after the Lord revealed His true intention to Abraham, He blessed him and his descendants because of his great and genuine faith.

What is the lesson which we can learn from this, brothers and sisters in Christ? What is the lesson that we can learn from Abraham, our father in faith? It is the lesson that all of us must not let our human and worldly concerns to overcome us or to affect our faith in God. It is too often that we mankind succumb to worldly temptations, the temptation of money, the temptation of worldly power and influence, the temptation of flesh pleasures and many others.

Take for example the case of St. Maria Goretti, the saint and holy woman whose feast we celebrate today. St. Maria Goretti lived about more than a hundred years ago in Italy, who was a devout and God-fearing young woman. At that time, she was suited by the son of her neighbour, named Alessandro, who wanted her to be his. He made his advances on her, and on a particular day, he cornered her, wanting to have sexual relations with her.

St. Maria Goretti, knowing that such an action is a great sin before God, rejected Alessandro’s advances and reminded him that they should not commit such a heinous sin before God. Therefore, as she continued to reject his advances, it made Alessandro to be overcome with anger and hatred, resulting in him stabbing St. Maria Goretti many times. He fled from the scene, leaving St. Maria Goretti mortally wounded.

But St. Maria Goretti did not have any grudge or hatred towards her murderer, Alessandro. From her deathbed, she forgave Alessandro and prayed for his conversion and redemption to the Lord. Eventually, Alessandro confessed to his murder and while in prison, he saw a vision of St. Maria Goretti who visited him. He had a change of heart and devoted himself to good cause from then on. He died many years later as a changed man, and even witnessed the canonisation of St. Maria Goretti, when she was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed the examples and the inspirations from St. Maria Goretti and Abraham, our father in faith, by committing ourselves to the Lord wholeheartedly and not allowing ourselves to be swayed by worldly temptations and influences. Let us stand by our faith in the Lord and remain true and righteous in all of our ways. Let us seek to do our best to be truly just and adhere to His laws obediently. May the Lord help us all in this endeavour. Amen.

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