You Are Not Your Own
Maria (or Marietta) Goretti, born in 1890, was the daughter of a poor farmer who lived near Rome, Italy. Luigi Goretti died young, leaving his wife, Assunta, to raise their five children. Maria was her Mother’s jewel. At eleven she was both physically and spiritually mature, and a great help to the struggling widow.
The Serenelli family lived near the Gorettis. One of their sons, Alessandro, a passionate and violent young man, had fixed his eyes on Maria. His attention made her uncomfortable, but she did not want to say anything to cause trouble between their families. However, one July day in 1902, while Assunta was out and while Marietta sat sewing at the top of the steps to her cottage, Alessandro came bounding up the stairs, dragged her inside and sought to seduce her. “No,” she cried out, “God does not wish it. It is a sin!” She said she would rather die than submit. Therepon the crazed youth drew out a knife, stabbed her again and again, and fled.
Maria, taken to a hospital, lived for only twenty-four hours. She received the last rites with great devotion, and died forgiving the youth who had killed her.
Alessandro was arrested and sentenced to thirty years of hard labor. For a long time he was a hard case, showing no remorse. Then according to his own account, he had a dream or a vision of Maria. She was carrying a bouquet of flowers and offered them to him. From that time on, his attitude changed completely. Released from prison when about forty-five, he got employment with a religious order as a manual laborer. When Maria was proposed as a candidate for beautification and canonization as a martyr – she had been venerated as such from the start – Serenelli was even eager to be of service as a witness. He was still alive when she was proclaimed a saint in 1950, but he did not think it appropriate to attend the huge ceremony of canonization. The total conversion of her enemy was thus the greatest of the miracles of St. Mary Goretti.
… You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … you are not your own. (1 Cor., 6:19. Today’s Second reading).
-Father Robert F. McNamara
Q354: Why doesn’t John the Evangelist name the other disciple who was with Andrew in today’s Gospel story (Jn 1:35-42)?
Remember that St. John the Evangelist is that great theologian who carefully picks every single word in his Gospel, and every word has special significance – even the “unspoken” words. So the very omission of a name is indicative of something significant. In scripture you will always find God either calling someone who will become great through someone insignificant; or working his greatest works through the humblest ones. Thus we find the simple and humble Mary, chosen to be God’s vehicle to bring the Redeemer of the world onto the human scene. We find David, the youngest of many brothers (and therefore insignificant), anointed to become King of Israel while a teenager. And we find Andrew calling his brother Simon and bringing him to Jesus – the same Simon who was renamed “Peter” and who was made the bedrock of the Church by Jesus. We also find the Galilean Philip bringing the wise and scholarly Nathaniel to Jesus.
So in today’s gospel we find two disciples of John the Baptist leaving him to follow one “greater” than him – Jesus the Christ. Recognizing John’s work of theology, we therefore assume (logically) that the unnamed disciple who accompanied Andrew to see Jesus also became “greater” in later history; and it was probably John who became St. John the Apostle and Evangelist (and who may also have been the “beloved disciple” in this same gospel). There is a lesson in humility here, among other things. Jesus taught this very well when he said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted.” There is also a lesson in observing what these humble people do. They are always on an active search for a closer relationship with God, and they are always available and willing to serve God and His people at all times. This is a definition of “faith in action.”
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! By “staying with” Jesus and becoming his disciples, the Apostles learned to imitate the mission of Christ, “to serve and to give his life” for others (CCC #608). Each one of us is called personally by God to “stay with” Jesus, to follow His way, and to continue His mission of spreading the Good News (in a manner appropriate to our vocation in life) (CCC #871).
Speak Lord; Your Servant Listens
The readings for these Sundays in ordinary time focus on discipleship. As the public ministry off Jesus unfolds in the readings for ordinary time, we are reminded and guided as our ordinary day to day lives develops. In the story of Samuel we have the classic pattern of discipleship. God calls and we respond “Speak Lord; your servant listens.” We see this pattern in detail in the gospel story. Andrew and another disciple of John hear the call when John points to Jesus as the Lamb of God. They go looking for him. They were looking for a teacher, a rabbi, but they found the messiah. But it was not enough to hear the word,, Andrew had to go and share the good news with his brother, Simon. So it must be with us. We may focus so much on hearing the word of God in some marvelous experience that we fail to hear him speaking in the voices of others, friends, relatives or even strangers. If we hear the call of the Lord, we respond, “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” We must keep in mind that listening to the Lord and responding means sharing the good news with others.
Father in heaven, every day you call us to follow you . Give us ears to hear and strength to respond and follow in the path where you call us today.