Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to distance ourselves from sin and evil, and to embrace His path, and to do what He has called us to do. Each and every one of us are called to be missionaries of our faith and witnesses of God’s truth and love to our fellow men. What we have heard in our Scripture readings today remind us that we are all called to holiness and to be committed to our Christian living and faith, in each and every opportunities and moments provided to us.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea, who ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel during the last years of its existence. The prophet Hosea came to bring forth the word of God to those people who had rejected Him for so many years, refusing to listen to the advice and words of the prophets who had been sent to them to remind them and help them on their way, in rejecting the kindness and compassion that the Lord had extended to them for a long time, all the patience that He had shown them. Hence, through Hosea and other prophets, the Lord made it known that the kingdom of Israel would be crushed and destroyed.
The pride and haughtiness of the kings of Israel in Samaria and the unfaithfulness of the people would become their undoing, and their wickedness and disobedience would lead to them being uprooted from their lands, crushed and conquered by other nations, scattered and exiled to far-off lands. But at the same time, as we heard from the same passage, God still did not give up on them, and still yet called on them to return to Him, to abandon their stubborn attitudes and wicked actions, and called on them all to follow Him once again and heed His ways. He wanted them all to be saved, and to be reconciled to Him.
In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Jesus and His calling of the Twelve Apostles, as He called on each one of them to be the chief ones among His disciples and followers. Each one of them were called from different places and they had different backgrounds and origins, but all of them were called with a mission, to be the ones through Whom God would perform and continue His many good works among the people, and to establish and allow His Church in this worlds to grow and flourish. They were all imperfect men and people with issues and troubles, whom God called to a new existence and holy life, and gave them the strength and guidance to do so.
Through the calling of the Apostles and the other disciples, whom the Lord commanded with the mission to reach out to all the peoples and to preach to them the Good News of salvation and eternal life, the Lord wanted each and every one of us to be active in contributing to the missions and works of the Church. We are all called to be exemplary in our way of life so that by our actions and deeds, we may inspire others all around us to follow our examples and to believe in God as well. Unless we devote ourselves to God wholeheartedly, and live to the best of our abilities to be virtuous in all things, we cannot then truly call ourselves as Christians.
Today all of us should heed the good examples set by St. Maria Goretti, the renowned saint and martyr, who died in her youth in the defence of her purity and faith. St. Maria Goretti was a martyr of purity and she dedicated her life to the Lord through prayer and devotions from a very young age. It was then that one of the tenants who stayed with St. Maria Goretti, whose young teenage son named Alessandro was enamoured with her and in one occasion when he was alone with her, the teenage Alessandro made advances on St. Maria Goretti and tried to rape her. St. Maria Goretti refused persistently and that made the young man angry, and he stabbed her several times before fleeing.
As she was dying, St. Maria Goretti told her mother and others than she forgave her assailant and prayed for him. Alessandro was arrested and imprisoned, and it was told that St. Maria Goretti appeared to him in prison in one occasion, and all that helped the young man to turn over a new leaf. Ever since henceforth, Alessandro, the one who had given in to his desires and killed St. Maria Goretti, resolved to live his life righteously and spent his life in constant penance and in striving for a more holy life and existence, seeking for forgiveness from the martyr’s mother and doing good works for the Church and the community. He eventually lived long enough to see St. Maria Goretti raised to the glory of the Altar in her canonisation as a saint.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today having heard from the Scriptures and from the lives of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro, her murderer, and how he turned over a new leaf in life, all of us are called to be good Christians, in abandoning and rejecting our sinful way of life, our past wickedness and disobedience, and embrace God, His love, compassion and mercy from now on. Let us all also not be stubborn anymore but instead do our best to proclaim the Good News of God through our lives and examples. May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength and the courage to follow Him from day to day, and to give our best in our mission as part of His Church, always and evermore. Amen.