October 16, 2019 – Wednesday 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Gerard Majella, CSsR
(Patron of Mothers, particularly pregnant mothers and their infants)
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (12:23-26)***
***readings proper to St. Gerard, Redemptorist Supplementary
Jesus said to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tel you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
When we experience rejections and deprivations in life, is it not that we also experience discouragements and have a sense of hopelessness?
That is why there would be people who would yield to a very low self-worth and low self-esteem because of such negative experiences. For others, this leads to depression and chronic loneliness. Others too would go to the other side that leads to a life filled with bitterness and then to that desire to always seek recognition, acceptance, and satisfaction. When these desires remain unconscious and become unsatisfiable, the person turns to be selfish, corrupt and abusive in his or her relationships.
Yet, negative experiences also can be an opportunity for us to grow more as a person into what God desires us to be. Our painful experiences of rejection and deprivations in life are also doors that will lead us into a life filled with confidence and assurance. This is the life that was shown to us by St. Gerard Majella whose feast we celebrate today. Before St Gerard was known to be a patron for mothers and particularly in time of pregnancy and for their infants, the young Gerard experienced hardships.
At a very young age he was deprived of a father. His father died and being the only boy, he became a father to his sisters. Though he was very young, he was forced by that circumstance to work as a tailor. Consequently, the hard work that he endured caused his health to fail. He had a very poor health as a young man. However, despite these difficult circumstances, Gerard was never bitter towards others who were better and well-off. He never blamed God for the difficulties he experienced.
In fact, Gerard desired that he will offer his whole life in the service of God. But then, because of his poor background and poor health he was rejected by a religious congregation that he wanted to join. Despite this rejection, Gerard never wavered in his resolved. When the Redemptorists came in his hometown, he was inspired by them and asked to join in their group. Again, because of his poor health he was rejected. But because of his persistence, he was able to join, but the Redemptorists reluctantly accepted him. He was never accepted fully, actually!
In terms of intellectual capacity, Gerard was very far from St Alphonsus, yet, what inspired the people around him was his sincerity. In all the things that Gerard did, he was always sincere. The words that he expressed was filled with sincerity. Gerard was not after any recognition or just to satisfy his cravings because of the deprivations in his life.
Gerard was just sincere because he was very confident with Jesus. His confidence and intimate friendship with the Lord made this poor and sickly Gerard secured and satisfied. Consequently, the very presence of Gerard uplifted and inspired others particularly those who were afflicted with illness, with loneliness, with poverty and other needs. Thus, even in his poverty, Gerard was generous; even in the midst of rejections, Gerard was most compassionate.
This is what Jesus told us in the Gospel today. The life of Gerard was a concrete example after Jesus of a seed that dies and then bears much fruit. Those painful and negative experiences of Gerard were his experiences of dying, his choice to make others happy and to bring others closer to Jesus was his way of self-denial and denial from his personal cravings. Hence, by his sincere actions and words, Gerard’s life bore much fruit.
This is the message also for us today. Let us not allow our negative experiences of rejections and deprivations to bring us farther away from ourselves, from others and from God. Let us rather make them as opportunities for us to grow deeper in our relationship with God and others. Let us be sincere in our words and actions so that we too will become God’s instruments in bringing miracles in the world. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR