“This time next year
you will be fondling a baby son.”
From Sunday’s First Reading from II Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
Did you know there are at least eight St. Gerard’s in our Church? Saints Gerard of Aurillac, Mayo, Majella, Brogne, Csanad, Gallinaro, Sauve-Majeure and of Toul make up the list. Two of the best known are St. Gerard of Csanad, who was born in Venice but after encountering King and Saint Stephen of Hungary, he was recruited to be a bishop in the new diocese of Csanad; later, he was martyred by an insurrectionist. The other better known one is St. Gerard of Majella. He is a patron of those who are seeking to conceive a child.
My parents, Domingo and Emma, married at the age of 28, a bit later than when most did in the 50’s. It was six years before my eldest and only sister, Jo Emma, was born. I arrived three years later, and my youngest brother, Alberto followed six years after me. After my mother had passed away, about seven years ago, I found a prayer card for St. Gerard of Majella in one of her prayer books. I am grateful for the intercessory prayers of this holy saint! His Feast Day is October 16th, but unfortunately for him, he is overshadowed on that day by sharing it with two other saint, St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who of course had the visions of the Sacred Heart. Because of this, many do not know of St. Gerard of Majella who is the patron saint of women wishing to conceive, mothers, children, unborn children, and falsely accused people.
In the first reading, we hear of the prophet Elisha staying at the home of a wealthy patron from Shunem. He wishes to repay her for her support and hospitality. Upon discovering she has been barren, he prophesies that within a year she will have a son! Other than praying for the healing of a loved one struggling with a serious illness, prayers to conceive a child are probably the most fervent prayers sent above. Yet as much as we love our children and family, today’s Gospel reminds us that our main love is to be the Lord. To be a true disciple means denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and making the Lord the center of our lives. May we have the courage to do so.