My grandfather was named after Saint Gabriel the Archangel. He grew up in a poor neighborhood overflowing with other immigrant families. When he was fourteen, he stopped attending the local Catholic school and began to work in the fields with the other boys. As he picked fruit in the unbearable heat, he prayed the Rosary and sang songs to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After work, he changed from his sweat-stained clothes into the only suitable shirt and tie he owned. He slicked his jet-black hair with a homemade grease that smelled like flowers. Then he walked several miles to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church and prayed until dark.
The readings today remind me of my grandfather, beloved father of two, grandfather of three, and great-grandfather of nine. In these readings I see the beauty of lineage. Jesse, the father of King David, was promised by God that Jesus Christ, true Man and true God, would be part of his family tree. (Isaiah 11:1-10.) The Kingdom of God was handed down to us for the salvation of the world.
I contemplate the tremendous gift of sharing the Gospel. We are given this blessing and honor to proclaim Christ to those around us.
I marvel at how my grandfather was the greatest witness in my life of our Catholic faith, despite being poor and uneducated in his youth in the worldly sense. Each Rosary that I saw him pray revealed the value of faithful devotion; his strong hands were calloused from years of hard labor and his fingers indented from each rosary bead. When he paused before a statue of Our Lady, removed his hat, and gave her honor, he revealed to me that she was my Mother.
My grandfather passed away years ago, yet his faith remains on. It remains with his family. I am forever thankful.
Precious sisters, may we all build a legacy of holiness. May we all be deeply devoted to Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.
In His mercy, may we all become Saints.
Let's pray for an increase in faith with the words from the Act of Faith.
Leana Bowler is a wife and mother of five little ones. She is a Holy Rosary enthusiast with deep devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her love for the message of Divine Mercy led her to become a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy dedicated to spreading Marian Consecration and the beauty of Christ's abundant Mercy. She enjoys finding the miracles in the mess of family life, books, strong coffee, and encountering others wherever they're at in this blessed journey to sainthood. You can find out more about her here.