God's mercy is infinite!
Loving your enemies and praying for
them is directly related to mercy and forgiveness. This is a supernatural grace
that only God can give to those who are willing to receive it! “Supernatural” means that it goes beyond our
natural powers to achieve.
Jesus taught and lived what He
preached. The Bible says that Jesus
first did and then He preached. This is authenticity. The opposite is duplicity
or hypocrisy—to say one thing and then to do the other!
Many are the words of Jesus on love,
mercy and forgiveness, but he proved it most eloquently by the way that he
ended His life on the cross that first Friday that we call “Good”!
Let us meditate deeply upon a few of
the pearls of infinite price that came from the words of the wisest man who
ever lived in human history—Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
“Be merciful as your heavenly Father is
In response to Peter on the limits to
forgiveness, Jesus said: “I say that you are to forgive not seven times but
seventy times seven times.”
When presenting your gift with an unreconciled
heart, Jesus said: “First leave your gift, be reconciled to your brother and
then come back to offer your gift.”
“I say to you forgive your
persecutors and pray for your enemies.”
“You have heard it said eye for eye
and tooth for tooth. I tell you turn your cheek to the one who strikes you.”
In the very heart of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus inserted: “Forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” To be forgiven by God,
we must first forgive those who have offended us! It is a two-way street!
BEST EXAMPLE! Of all of the words and examples of
forgiveness in the world, by far the best example can be taken from Jesus as He
hangs dying on the cross, shedding the last drops of His precious Blood and
forgiving with these words: “Father,
forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
All of these Biblical statements and
examples are eloquent witness to the fact that we are challenged to live out
the Gospel of love by forgiving those who have hurt us and by practicing the greatest attribute of the Sacred Heart of Jesus—His Divine Mercy.
(Pope John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska)
We would like to give an example of a
saint who lived this out in a most exemplary way as well as that of her mother.
Brought up and raised in abject
poverty and having lost her father at a very tender age, Maria Goretti
manifested to the world a heroic witness of love mercy and forgiveness.
Maria, her mother and siblings were
forced to share a humble abode with a man and his son, the Serenelli family.
The son was a teenage boy named Alessandro.
From the start the two families
worked side by side harmoniously. However, poison contaminated the relationship
between the teenage boy and Maria. The poison was that of looking at
pornographic magazines. Alex became addicted to porn and transferred that to
viewing the little girl Maria with sinful glances and intentions.
Lust consumed him so much that he
burned with passion for Maria. This
overflowed in his making sinful advances at Maria which she readily rebuffed!
The situation reached a head when one
day Alex stormed in from the fields consumed by lust and passion, like a
ferocious and ravenous animal. His mind and heart was determined and bent on
one purpose—to carry out the sinful actions he had seen in the dirty magazine
with the little girl, Maria Goretti.
Alessandro and Maria's resistance!
Maria was alone in the house watching
over her baby sister and attending to household chores. The wild animal Alex impetuously rushed on
trying to force himself upon Maria, upon which Maria forcefully resisted with
these words: “No it is a mortal sin and we will go to hell for it.” These words seemed to infuriate Alex all the
more and he pulled out an icepick and stabbed her a total of fourteen times.
Rushed to the hospital and dying a slow
and painful death, a priest came to the bedside of Maria. He asked Maria if she forgave Alex for what
he did to her. Without any hesitation Maria responded: “Yes I have forgiven him and I want him to be
with me in heaven.”
Not too long after this heroic
witness of defense of purity and virginity for the sake of the kingdom as well
as heroic mercy and forgiveness, Maria Goretti passed from this life into the
loving embrace of her Heavenly Father!
Vision of Maria by Alessandro
There are two more significant
incidents worthy of note. First was that Alex was sent to jail without the
slightest signs of repentance for murdering an innocent girl that he intended
to rape! However, while in prison, Maria appeared to him assuring him of her
forgiveness and encouraging him to open his heart to God’s mercy. This Alex
did! The Bishop of Nettuno came in to
the cell and heard the repentant murderer’s confession. From that moment on,
there was a radical change in his whole demeanor and comportment. In a word, he
behaved like a humble saint!
The second was that, due to good
behavior, Alex was discharged from jail earlier than was determined. One of the
first gestures Alex did was to visit the mother of the murdered girl, Asunta Goretti.
The wounds of Maria
In one of the most emotional and
moving moments in the history and lives of the saints, Alex knocked on the door
of the mother of the daughter he murdered. It was Christmas Eve! After many
years the aged repentant sinner asked her if she recognized him. She did! Then
he asked if she could forgive him. Like the saintly daughter the mother
responded: “If God forgave you and my daughter has forgiven you, then who I am
not to forgive you.” Then she invited Alex in to a Christmas Eve meal to share
with her and her family.
Then that very same night both of
them went to the Christmas Eve Mass and received Holy Communion—the Body,
Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ—together in Holy Mass.
In the year 1950, Pope Pius XII, in
one of the most numerously attended canonization ceremonies, canonized SAINT
MARIA GORRETI—patron of youth and the virtue of purity.
Present at the canonization ceremony
was the mother of Saint Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli, the man who murdered
her. But he was also the man that she forgave, the mother forgave, and God
Himself forgave in His infinite mercy!
May we learn from St. Maria Goretti
and the words, example and life of Jesus the powerful message of the importance
of forgiveness and mercy! “Father
forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”