April 11, 2016
On this feast of St. Gemma Galgani:
It is an easy love, O Jesus, to love someone that never gets angry with those who offend Him. Many times I have seen, O Jesus, that while justice demands that I be punished, You take steps to prevent this punishment, even to have it withdrawn. I have found a Jesus so infatuated with my heart that he knows not how to embitter it....He wants everything for Himself, in reparation for my sins. It is almost a lucky break for me, to have been born a sinner, because the veins of my Lord are always open, full of that Sacramental Blood! O my God! What would You wish to do, my compassionate Jesus? Would You wish to make all Your merits mine; apply to me everything that is Yours? And can there be a heart that will not let itself be taken over by so much charity? Can there be a soul that will not let itself be won over? Can there be a will that will not let itself be ravished by You? O my soul, how much longer do you wish to be so stingy with Jesus? Why so negligent towards Jesus who made you? Why so lazy towards Jesus who redeemed you? Who do you want to love, if you do not want to love Jesus?
The life of St. Gemma was characterized by extreme suffering, mystical experiences, and radical generosity and trust. She offered herself as a victim for souls, willingly sacrificing herself for love of Jesus. Her trust in God was deep and unshakeable, even when tested against powerful temptations and trials. She was passionate in her love for Jesus. When Gemma was just a child, God chose to reveal Himself to her through ecstasies and visions in which she experienced His presence in a profound and tangible way, and this utterly transformed her life. She came to understand that God's love for us expands far beyond what we are capable of perceiving, that He is an infinite well of goodness and beauty. Her writings reveal to us just a glimpse of the fire of love that burned within her soul, a fire ignited by God Himself.
O Jesus, how are You doing in the narrow cell of my heart? Are You all right? Expand my chest, because it is no longer enough to contain You....Jesus, allow me to pour out my affections with You...
In Gemma, we see the value of a hidden life. She was a sickly young girl in Italy who rarely left her home, but her small, short life has made an incredible impact on the world. Through her resolve to sacrifice earthly joys to work for heavenly glory, we can see the words of today's Gospel being lived out: "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal" (John 6:26–27). Gemma's focus was not on earthly concerns or the daily trials she faced; she was not preoccupied with achieving any kind of worldly success. Her eyes were fixed on Heaven, and she was willing to give up any earthly comfort for the sake of heavenly joys. She made sacrifices not only for her own salvation, but for other souls, too, offering herself in reparation for sins so that other sinners might be welcomed into Christ's arms. She willingly received the Stigmata and suffered intense pain. Her daily bread was the Eucharist, and when she received the Blessed Sacrament, she was very much aware that she was receiving Christ Himself, so much so that she could sometimes barely contain her emotion.
Yesterday, in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I felt myself burning so fiercely that I had to go away. I felt stunned that so many could stay so near to Jesus and not be reduced to ashes. I felt I should be consumed.
Gemma was given eyes to see the miracles that surround each and every one of us. Her words describe the brilliant Light around us that we are too blind to perceive, but whose warmth radiates out upon us. She reminds us that Love is a Person, that the Heart of Jesus burns with love for us and that He longs for a relationship with us. His is a love too beautiful for us to even begin to understand, a love that will consume us utterly if we open up our hearts just a crack to let Him in.
I shall love You; I shall love You always! When day breaks, when evening turns into night, at every hour, at every moment; I shall love You always, always, always!