ST MARIA GORETTI, 1890-1902, Virgin and Martyr
ST MONINNE, one of Ireland’s early women saints
Anyone who endures a sciatica nerve pain in the leg knows the discomfort it causes. Sciatica originates in the lower back and travels down the leg. Jewish religion forbids the Jewish people to consume the sciatic nerve.
The explanation for this is proclaimed in the reading at Mass today (Gen 32: 23-33). The reading commemorates Jacob’s victory over an angel after they wrestled all night. The angel dislodged Jacob’s sciatic nerve. At the end of the fight, the angel struck a nerve in Jacob’s leg. The blow caused a dislocated hip, leaving Jacob to limp. Due to this incident, ‘Therefore the Israelites do not eat the displaced nerve (gid ha-nasheh) on the hip joint to this very day.’ (Gen 32:33). In his wrestle with God, Jacob remained firm in his dialogue with God. God changed Jacob’s name. His new name was Israel, which expresses a new mission for Jacob. God blessed Jacob and then Jacob ‘called the place “Penuel”, saying ‘I have seen God face to face and survived.’ This new mission meant that Jacob led a new life from the past. In addition, he had a noticeable limp because of the struggle with God.
Just like Jacob, God calls each one of us daily in a new way, sometimes inviting us to change our lives in serving God and the Church. Jacob’s story gives us new strength. One thing we can be sure in our relationship with God is that he promised to be with us always until the end of time. We place our trust in his Providence in all of life’s changes.
Jacob pleaded with God in prayer for a blessing. He persevered in his prayer. Psalm 16 is also a plea for help and the assembly responds to the steadfastness and the conviction of the psalmist saying, ‘Lord, in my justice, I shall see your face.’
The Gospel (Mt 9: 32-38) describes Jesus ministry through the towns and villages. What did Jesus spend his days doing? He was ‘teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness.’ As Jesus travelled around he saw the crowds of people and he felt sorry for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He turned to his disciples and he explained to them about the lack of labourers to serve the rich harvest. This call of Jesus to ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into the harvest is a key text used in vocation ministry today.
The Christian vocation is a key theme of the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé programme particularly in the Fifth and Sixth class religious education programmes. Resources include IT resources, Scripture, prayer, the lives of Christian heroes, which can be accessed on the Grow in Love website and the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Children’s textbook and e-book. Access at:
God calls his followers today to follow Jesus and engage in his mission in tending the multiple needs in society. Disciples do this through prayer, through receiving the sacraments and reaching out in love to their neighbours. The Holy Spirit inspires the disciples to persevere in prayer and in the mission in spite of obstacles that might arise. Like Jacob, there will be wrestling along the way and perseverance is essential to carry the cross of discipleship. The Good News is that God desires to guard each one as the apple of his eye.
- Our Father/ An Phaidir
- Hail Mary/ Sé do Bheatha a Mhuire
- Read Psalm 16:1-3. 6-8.15 from your Bible. Notice all the ways the psalmist is asking God to help him
- Read the story of Jacob as told in Genesis 32: 23-33
- Look at an image of the human body and find out where the sciatic nerve is located
- In the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today (Mt 9: 32-38) we hear that Jesus cured all kinds of diseases and sicknesses. Can you tell one of these stories where Jesus healed a person who was sick?
- In what way can you continue the mission of Jesus in your life today?
- Find out about St Maria Goretti and why she became a saint
- Find out about St Moninne, an early Irish woman saint
Sr Anne Neylon