ST. ROCCO, A SAINT WITH THE ODOUR OF THE GOSPEL
by Br. Costantino De Bellis, St. Rocco’s Procurator
1) THE CROSS
At St. Rocco’s birth there appeared on his chest the sign of the cross that remained engraved there forever.
An unusual event, indicating a source of grace in faith. A common event for each of us that were opened to the life of the Spirit with the sign of the cross, seal of Christ, on the day of our Baptism.
Also for us that is a sign of grace in faith, in union with the Church. We were not situated in two different ways.
It is the way of looking at the cross that becomes different.
Even in the moral integrity of Christian devotees, how many pages of the Gospel sometimes we forget because of so many unnecessary distractions. Our behavior then cannot any longer be consistent with the Word of the Lord. Let us remember that the seal of love with which Christ has bound us to Himself will never be erased from our spirit, but expects to be witnessed to in our lives.
We do not have to reach the ends of the world to do good: these boundaries are sometimes in our homes, where we know that there are suffering and need; we can cross these boundaries where people await even one word of comfort, where people live in abandonment and solitude. To how many other things the salvation of the Cross calls us so that we may be more worthy children of God!
Let us remember the example of St. Rocco who was able to carry his cross and to lighten the cross of others.
2) THE VALUE OF RICHNESS
In the Gospel of Mark, a man who thought that he was living righteously wanted to be sure that he deserved eternal life. He asked Jesus what he should do. Jesus' answer was: “Sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have a treasure in heaven: then come and follow me”. The man became sad and went away because he had great possessions (cf. Mk 10: 17-22).
Therefore he did not follow the Lord, but resumed his road paved with riches. The Gospel does not add in this passage, if that deceptive gleam lit up well the way of salvation. Rocco understood well the Lord's words: he sold all his possessions and distributed them to the needy, and he became a servant of Christ. A gesture that had its great value not because of the great wealth possessed, but because Rocco, in his Christian spirit, didn’t privilege material goods, or put them in first place as do those who have their hearts where their treasure is. These people will never know how the pleasure of giving even just a little to those who have nothing, is more intense than the pleasure of those who accept this act of love. Even if we receive human gratitude, we can be sure that Christ will thank us even more abundantly.
"Whatever you did for one of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"(Mt 25, 40).
3) THE VOW OF HUMILITY
Rocco had already got rid of every economic legacy, but he was still heir of an illustrious family which, even without wealth, would have allowed him a prestigious position in the best society of France.
But Rocco had chosen the virtue of humility, a virtue which represents the nobility of spirit and behaviour, so important that it determined the choice of Mary to be Mother of God.
St. Rocco, therefore, made a vow to live unknown to the world, to avoid any connection with his noble rank.
He annihilated himself to be only a servant of Christ.
Let us reflect on our life
What a huge difference we see often in human attitudes!
Not only is humility lacking, but the pride takes over and, still worse, there is the absence of even a charitable look.
Have we ever looked at a cross to ponder that, if it reminds us salvation, it reminds us also of the transience and fragility of life on earth?
Have we ever thought that with all our haughty conceit, we can not change a single grain of the dust from which we were born and to which we go back?
May St. Rocco enlighten us to understand that, along with many Christian virtues, humility is able to offer us an infinite joy with a single gesture of love.
Rocco, the Good Samaritan
(love your neighbor as yourself)
To help the suffering brothers and sisters has been for St. Rocco the underlying reason for his work in the name of Christ.
A reason that was born with humanity, creature of God. Then you can understand the answer of Jesus to the teachers of the law who asked Him which was the greatest commandment. Jesus states that the first and the second commandment are similar: "You shall love the Lord your God” ..." "You shall love your neighbor .... "
As a confirmation of the love that God wants to reign among His creatures, Jesus himself is present in people who suffer, considering that every act of charity is done to Him. To turn our backs on these brothers burdened with a cross and not act as the Cyrenian to alleviate their suffering, is the same as turning our backs on Jesus who offered His life for the redemption and salvation of humankind. Unfortunately, many people, distracted by other realities, do not realize how acceptable it is to the Lord to act as a good Samaritan in His name.
It is an action that comforts our spirit and nourishes it with love. It is so great that it could be said, if we want to find a comparison with the gifts of Jesus, we should think of the Cross and the Eucharist.
St. Rocco well understood the value of this commitment that he implemented by every sacrifice.
God Himself worked with him by the gift of miracles. May St. Rocco help us to have a deep awareness of this Christian duty.
St. Rocco’s heroic fidelity to God’s promise
The Saint chose the prison, instead of being unfaithful to his vow to God. He worked even when hidden from the world.
Let us recall the episode. That battered pilgrim was stopped by the police and suspected of being a spy.
When asked about his identity, he said merely that he was a servant of Christ.
The vague response increased the suspicions, for which he was imprisoned. He would have been saved if he had revealed his noble origins.
Let us reflect on our duties
Let us meditate on this decision, certainly heroic, but perfectly consistent with his vow. The duties that derive from Baptism and Confirmation are still more solemn.
We will never acquire a full awareness of the responsibilities which we are ours since, by the grace of the Sacraments, we became new creatures, united with God and incorporated into the Church. Listening to the priest who calls us to our duties from the altar, we know that that is the voice of our duties, we know that is the voice of Christ that comes to us through His minister, as if it were Peter appointed by him.
They indicate a difficult but possible and glorious way.
If holiness is open to all, it is also true that it requires an unconditional willingness to walk in the footsteps of Christ. If we do not have the ability to climb the stairs to the Saints, let us strive to reach the first step. There are many opportunities to enjoy this happiness. Let us invoke the intercession of St. Rocco and the Virgin Mary for the grace to be better.