A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “C” – 7/14/19 – SMG AND ALSO HOMILY FOR THE ITALIAN FESTIVAL MASS 7/13/19.
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
How do we respond to God’s love? That seems to be the theme of all three of our readings today. How are we to live as God’s people? Deuteronomy, in our First Reading reminds us to listen to God and to obey His commandments. The reading tells us that it is NOT that difficult and all we have to do is DO IT! St. Luke’s Gospel tells us that our response has to be to love God in return with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is great advice for all of us, IF we really truly want to respond to God’s love!
For the past week, we have been celebrating the life and the sainthood of our Patroness, St. Maria Goretti. Last weekend, I talked about the amazing way this little eleven year old girl obeyed God’s commandments AND loved her neighbor enough, that even after Alessandro stabbed her fourteen times, she still forgave him for what he did! It is a beautiful, inspiring story for sure, and one that we ought to all be familiar with.
This evening, I’d like to talk about her attacker, Alessandro Serenelli. Alessandro provides us a powerful example of what happens when we don’t experience or respond to, God’s great love. Alessandro life was a mess. As a small child, his own mother tried to drown him. Later, she would be placed in a mental hospital, where she would take her own life. Alessandro had one brother who also had serious mental and emotional problems, and he too would take his own life while in seminary. Giovanni, Alessandro’s father, had a severe drinking problem, and had great difficulty keeping jobs. This left him and his son in a constant state of poverty. Alessandro’s life was lonely, sad, and very difficult. He never knew a stable family life, until he and his father moved in with the Goretti’s. Alessandro longed for someone, anyone, to love and care of him. His loneliness led him, in his late teen years, to see the false peace and passing enjoyment of pornography. Now, a couple of weeks ago, when we prayed the Novena to St. Maria Goretti, a couple of you were surprised to hear that pornography existed before the internet. Let me assure you, it did. The cavemen had pornography on the walls of their caves. If you go to the excavations of the lost city of Pompeii, they had whole rooms decorated with pornography. Is it any wonder that God blew up that volcano and destroyed that town. Pornography is nothing new. And certainly Alessandro back in the early 1900’s had access to it. He might not have been able to get it on his computer, or tablet, or I-phone, but Alessandro knew where to get porn. And he did. And he filled his thoughts and imagination with images that led him to his crime against St. Maria Goretti.
In his own words Alessandro wrote, “Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself. My Behavior was influenced by print, mass media, and bad examples that are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking.” And remember, Alessandro is writing this way before the internet! And then he wrote,
“And I did the same.” From St. Maria Goretti’s murderer himself, pornography was the influence that led him to take the life of a Saint!
Today, we know a lot more about the damage that pornography can do. Scientific research shows today that pornography affects the frontal lobe of the brain where decision-making takes place. The research has shown that the brain is affected by pornography in nearly the same way that it is by cocaine or heroin, making pornography highly addictive. The physiological aspect of what pornography is doing in our brains, makes it even more dangerous as a habitual sin. Like Alessandro Serenelli, today we hundreds of thousands of good people, who are hooked on pornography. And today, it still has devastating results. It is warping everything that we value: family, marriage, friendship, free time. And it is not just young teenage men. Today, thanks to the ease of getting pornography, a first or second grader, boy or girl, is as likely to be watching pornography on the internet, as an eighty or ninety year old man or woman. In 2019, pornography on the internet is affecting all of us, and harming all of us, young and old, men and women, married and unmarried. It is out of control. Did you know that nearly 50 % of all Google searches involve the online search for pornography? So much for using the internet for school or work! This is a severe crisis, my brothers and sisters. This is killing us as Church! And by the way, most of those priests that we are now so embarrassed about as a Church from the last forty years? Most of them started with pornography. We either stop this, or it gets even worse.
Clearly today, we’ve got a problem. And it is big. And we’re allowing it to affect way too many of us! And it is the same one that Alessandro Serenelli warned us about before he died. Pornography is not leading any of us anywhere good. IF we’re going to respond to Christ, if we are going to be the people who obey His commandments and live by His truth and what is right, then we’ve got to break all our bad habits and our habitual sins.
The Lord has given us simple commandments that we all know can be very difficult to follow. But they are not impossible! With God’s help, let us make every effort to live holy lives and to be good examples to one another!
+ May God help us to love Him and to love one another, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!