July 7, 2019

A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME –  CYCLE “C” – JULY 6TH & 7TH, 2019  –  SMG  —  THE FEAST OF ST. MARIA GORETTI

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you this day!

Today in our Gospel, as Jesus sends out the seventy-two, two by two, He sends them with the message that the Kingdom of God is at hand.  It’s not coming.  It’s not about to happen.  It’s not something that’s right around the corner, or going to happen next week.  The Kingdom of God is here, it is at hand.  And that message, my brothers and sisters, has radical demands for each and every one of us.  The Kingdom is here means that we must live our lives by the new rules of Kingdom that last forever, or we can live our lives by the way of a world that is passing away.  The choice is ours.  We make those choices hundreds of times every day.  Even to say, that we are not going to choose, by sitting the decision out, is still making a choice!  We’ve got to do something!  The Kingdom of God being at hand demands repentance and faith from all of us.  It’s not a choice any more.  It’s what we must do, if we want to have eternal life, if we want to be included in that Kingdom.

Our patroness, St. Maria Goretti, who’s Feast Day we celebrate today/yesterday, has a very keen sense of that requirement, that necessity!  Even as a child, this little girl was solidly committed to Jesus and to Jesus’ Kingdom.  And St. Maria Goretti knew, that to get home to Heaven, you had to live the life, the Christian life.  And so she did.  She prayed.  She served.  She helped out.  She learned her Faith.  She stayed to committed the teachings of Jesus, even when it was not easy to stay committed to the teachings of Jesus.  Even when Alessandro Serenelli threatened her, and hurt her, Maria knew that what Alessandro was forcing on her, was NOT the way to Heaven, was not part of God’s Kingdom!  St. Maria Goretti had more commitment for God’s Kingdom in her tiny, young soul, than most of us will ever know!  Even afterwards, lying in a hospital bed with fourteen stab wounds, still sticking with Heaven, and still following Christ, and still knowing that the Kingdom of God was right there!  She forgives Alessandro and wants him in that Kingdom with her.  And so does her mother!  And this is not years later!  This is not after years of counseling and confession and the healing of time.  This is the day after this savage attack.  And suddenly, in 1902, the Church would be given a new lesson in living in the new Kingdom.  Not from a Pope, and not from a theologian, not from a priest or religious, but from an eleven year old girl.  The Kingdom of God is at Hand!  It is here!  What are you going to do about it?

I’m not sure how many of you saw in the news just last September, the story about a young woman in Boston, who was stabbed while jogging near Logan Circle.  35 year old Wendy Martinez, went out for a run on the evening of September 18th, 2018, just a few months ago, and was violently attacked by a crazy young man with knife!  Wendy, who had just gotten engaged, was stabbed seven times!  The story is hauntingly similar to St. Maria Goretti’s.  Wendy managed to limp into a Chinese restaurant to try and get help, but it was too late.  She had already lost too much blood.  Wendy died that night.  The next day, in an interview on

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Boston TV, Wendy’s heart-broken Mom, forgave her daughter’s murder, even before they knew who he was.  She forgave him.  Why?  How?  She forgave him because of a Kingdom that has already begun, and that is so much bigger than this world or this life.  Cora Martinez said that she had “no room in her heart or in her life for that kind of hate”.   Isn’t that exactly the same thing that Assunta Goretti said in Nettuno, just after Maria Goretti died?   The truth continues! The Kingdom is bigger than everything.  The Kingdom is more important than anything!  And the Kingdom calls all of us to live differently!   And die differently.  And forgive differently!

The real truth of today’s Gospel passage is this:  whether we want to listen to this message or not, whether we or anybody else come to believe this or not, the Kingdom of God is in fact, at hand.  It is here.  And it requires something of all of us, just as it did of St. Maria Goretti and her Mother, Assunta, and just as it did Wendy Martinez, and her mother, Cora.  It requires us to choose to live by a high set of values than what this world does.  In the Gospel, Jesus gave power over “serpents and scorpions” to the disciples, so that they would have nothing to fear, if they trusted in the Lord.  This is the promise for all those who believe.

The harvest if abundant but the laborers are few, Jesus said that today also.  The laborers are you and me today.  They are not some other people.  So let us love, and forgive, and stand up for what is right, and stand against what is wrong.  And let us know that that Kingdom lasts forever.  But this world, that we cling to, so many times, it is dying.  It is passing away.  Like St. Maria Goretti, let us be committed to what lasts forever!

+  God bless us on her Feast Day,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…   AMEN !!!