Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking about the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, to whom the prophet Hosea had been sent to. The people of Israel had been blessed with much blessings, as their ancestors had been faithful to God and to His covenant with them. And at that time, as a background, the prophet Hosea was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel at the time of relative prosperity.
And all that prosperity as well as their own stubbornness and lack of faith had made the people of God to lose track and deviate from the true faith in God. They refused to listen to the prophets which had been sent to them to remind them of what they ought to do to repent and to turn back to the Lord. They disobeyed God and instead, they lived in debauchery and wasted themselves on the prosperity and the wealth which they had gained.
And instead of following their one and true King, they followed the king whom they have set over themselves. Those kings had misled them into evil ways and thus into sin. But despite of this, they continued on with their wrong path, and they therefore sank deeper into the darkness. And yet, God continued to send His help again and again, one after another with the hope that some of them would realise their errors and return to Him.
That was why Jesus our Lord, Who came into the world in order to save it, also sent His twelve Apostles and the many other disciples He had to preach His Good News to the people, spreading the truth about God’s love and mercy to them, and calling them to repentance and to turn themselves to God’s ever great and generous mercy.
But the resistance by all those people to whom the Apostles and the disciples had been sent to, was great. They did not like it when they had to change their ways to suit that of the ways of the Lord. For them, it was much more preferable for them to continue with their then way of life rather than to abandon them for the sake of the Lord. Many of them were too attached to worldliness and thus their hearts were set against God and His message.
Then, this is where we should take note of what happened to the saint whose feast day we celebrate today. She is the famous saint whose story must be quite familiar with many of us. St. Maria Goretti was a young woman who was devoted to the Lord, and has promised herself before God to remain holy and pure in all things. She lived with another family as her own father had passed away when she was still very young.
The son of the family where St. Maria Goretti lived in took an interest in her, and he on one occasion, threatened St. Maria Goretti and wanted to rape her when she was alone, but St. Maria Goretti, even when threatened with a sharp knife, refused his advances, and courageously reminded him that such an act is a great and mortal sin that would condemn both of them to the eternal fires of hell.
Faced with such a setback and opposition, the boy panicked and as he gave in to his fears and anger, he struck at St. Maria Goretti many times with the knife. As she laid dying from her wounds in the hospital, she forgave her murderer with love, and wished that he would be with her in Heaven.
And indeed, while the murderer refused to repent and did not show regret over his actions in the first few years of his imprisonment, but after a bishop visited him in prison and told him how St. Maria Goretti had forgiven him and even prayed for him, and as on one night she even appeared before him and spoke to him, the murderer, Alessandro Serenelli, repented sincerely and changed his ways, eventually even becoming a member of a religious order, dedicating himself to a life of piety and devotion to God.
This wonderful story of the life and death of St. Maria Goretti, and how her murderer had been converted into the way to salvation should be inspiration for us all as well. Let us not be like the people of Israel in ancient times, who placed their worldly desires and greed above their faith in God. The same problem had caused that Alessandro to murder St. Maria Goretti, and also many other sinful things which we mankind commit in this world today.
Let us all no longer give in to our human desires and the greed that is in our hearts. Let us instead devote ourselves ever more faithfully to our God, and give ourselves to Him in all the things that we say and do, so that we may draw ever closer to the throne of His love and mercy. God bless us all. Amen.