A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME AND THE 2017 ITALIAN FESTIVAL MASS CELEBRATING ST. MARIA GORETTI — CYCLE “A” – JULY 8TH & 9TH, 2017 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Henry Wertin is a good man, a man of Faith, a good Catholic. He came from a good Catholic family. He went to Mass every week. He prayed every day. He lived a just and holy life. In 1973 he married his wife, Mary Beth, who also came from a good Catholic family. Together they raised ten children, two of whom, became Catholic priests. In the Jubilee Year of 2000, Henry Wertin, who had been a chiropractor for 37 years, became Deacon Henry Wertin, with his ordination to the Permanent Diaconate. By pretty much every measure, Deacon Henry had a blessed life, a holy life, a good life. Most of us would think, what could go wrong, when you’re a Deacon and you have two sons who are priests! Right? In 2004, Deacon Henry’s wife was tragically killed in a car accident. It wasn’t what they had planned. It threw a curve ball to the entire family. What do you do with that kind of loss? What do you do with that kind of grief, and anger, and hurt? Everybody gets crosses.
Like the Wertin’s, St. Maria Goretti’s family was also a good Catholic family. They went to Mass every week, they prayed every day, and they lived a just and holy life. Also like the Wertin’s, St. Maria Goretti and her family also experienced loss, with the death of her Father, Luigi, from typhus and malaria. Of course, the Goretti family would endure much more, when on July 5th, 1902, Maria was violently attacked and stabbed fourteen times. She died the next day. This too, wasn’t what the Goretti’s had planned for. What do you that kind of loss? What do you do with that kind of grief, and anger, and hurt? Even good Catholic families get crosses.
Before she died, St. Maria Goretti in Faith and in mercy, forgave her attacker. She not only forgave Alessandro Serinelli, she asked God, her mother, and her whole family to do the same. St. Maria Goretti’s Faith and mercy, changed everything. This is why we are sitting today, a hundred and fifteen years later, in a church dedicated to her honor! St. Maria Goretti’s Faith, and her true desire for mercy for her attacker, is what makes this story different, and even inspirational to all of us. St. Maria Goretti knew that dying is not the end of the story. She knew where she was going. And she wanted Alessandro Serinelli to have the chance to be there with her. And so rather than anger, she forgave. Rather than despairing without hope, she had incredible Faith! And she took her hurt, her pain, and converted it to mercy and love! And she changed everything. For lots of people! For her Mother, and for her family, and for her church, and even for Alessandro!
What we do in the face of crosses, is extremely important! How we respond to tragedy speaks volumes about how much we believe and where our trust really lies! Certainly, there were many tragedies around the world in 1902. There were terrible losses and pain came to many families. What’s different about this one? What’s different about St. Maria Goretti? This little girl turned it all around, with love, and with Faith, and with mercy. This story could have gone very differently. Many people do go through such crosses and become very angry, and bitter, and even hateful. We know this, because we have a world full of people like that! We have so many angry people today! Some of them kill or hurt others. Some of them walk into their work place and shoot a bunch of people. Some of them blow up airplanes, or nightclubs, or subways. The pain and the anger and the violence never work. They don’t make anybody feel better. God has a better way. And He showed it to us on a Cross two-thousand years ago, with the death of His Only Son. Forgiveness, and Mercy, and Faith WORK! In fact, they work very well.
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Faith and Mercy can take the worst of our crosses and turn them around. That’s the mystery of the Resurrection! And Resurrection doesn’t just happen when we die, but Resurrection is constantly going on all around us, anytime and anywhere there are crosses or suffering. God can turn anything around, even the worst things that we can imagine! Even crosses! We put our Faith in that today.
So what happened to Deacon Henry and his family? What did they do with their sadness and grief? Well, they kept having Faith, and they helped each other to carry on, and on February 5th, of 2016, last year, Deacon Henry became Father Henry Wertin, a priest of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado. He con-celebrated his First Mass with his two sons, and all of his other children and grandchildren were there to help him celebrate this next step in his life. They still miss their mom and grandmother. But they have Faith, and they trust that there’s a bigger plan. All we need to do, is to do the same!
+ May God bless us as we celebrate our Patroness! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…. AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!