March 5, 2016
"O God, be merciful to me a sinner." (Today's Gospel)
She told him not to do it because it was a mortal sin, his soul would be condemned.
She rejected him and without the smallest sign of remorse he hurt her fourteen times.
Fourteen times he stabbed her to death.
She was taken to hospital, she was nearly dead and agonizing “I forgive him” were some of her last words.
This is the way Saint Maria Goretti died at age 12 defending the purity of her body, after an attempt of rape by her 20 years old neighbor Alessandro.
A few days ago I heard this story for the first time in the words of Father Sebastian CFR .
What's fascinating about this story is not only the almost instant way in which Maria Goretti forgives her murderer but how mercy is a two way street, one must be willing to accept it.
Alessandro was sentenced to thirty years in prison, his life became a chaotic desert full of anger, humiliation and abused from the other inmates.
"It's her fault. If she had only submitted to my will” he would say all the time.
This is the greatest desire of the enemy, he wants us to summit to his will, he wants us to reject mercy, he wants us to fall and lose hope. He wants us to submit to the idea that not everything is forgivable, that God’s mercy is not enough for us to be free. Would you submit?
Alessandro was filled with more hatred and bitterness, like one who won’t even find peace in his own grave.
Suddenly after eight years she came to him, Saint Maria Goretti appeared in his dreams, with a garden full of flowers.
She came and handed him a bouquet of lilies. But Alessandro rejected this gift, he wouldn’t take the lilies, his shame and hate were on the way. "Accept them, you don’t even have to look at them if you don’t want, simply open up your hands and hold them". So he agreed.
He stretched out his hands and accepted the bouquet of lilies. How easy!!! There were fourteen lilies in the bouquet, one for every stab, one for every wound, one for every time he needed to be forgiven. Fourteen stabs of mercy, fourteen lilies that at the touch of his hands became fire, purifying fire, and ever since Alessandro was transformed.
Brothers and sisters we have to love radically, like Maria Goretti who radically loved her murderer and forgave him immediately. What a beautiful love!!!! To be able to love the unlovable and turn evil into hope for the sake of salvation. The type of love that kisses a leper, that gives water to a stranger, a love which forgives the unforgivable. a love capable of doing what others just watch and pray about, an active love whose prayer is the very action of giving itself for the sake of others.
But more importantly, we have to radically accept this love, no matter where we are, how we feel or what we’ve done, it takes more courage to accept the love of Christ in the intimacy of our souls than to manifest it loudly in the open.
I can only imagine that if St. Maria Goretti offered a lily for each of her wounds, how amazing is the mercy of God offering us a flower of mercy for every wound on his son’s body after the scourging on the pillar, for every thorn that touched his head, for every painful step he gave on his way to the calvary, for every drop of blood he shed on the cross...we sure have an everlasting garden.
At the end of the day is the love we receive what makes us holy, for we cannot give what we don’t possess ourselves.
St. Maria Goretti,
Pray for us.