Homily on the Memorial of Bl. Alberto Marvelli, Monday, 27th Week in OT, 5 October 2020,
Last Saturday one of our working students in the parish lost her bicycle. I was saddened when we came to know about it because that was her only means to come to the parish to report for work everyday. We hope and pray that whoever took her bicycle away may be disturbed by his conscience, regret what he has done and resolve to return the bicycle soon to its rightful owner.
While recalling what happened two days ago, I suddenly remembered a young man who loved to go biking many years ago, in fact he loved cycling as a sport. His name is Alberto Marvelli, an Italian youth born in Italy a hundred and two years ago. But what was amazing about this teenager was that he would use his bike also to distribute donations and relief goods to the poor. Moreover, his active involvement in their Salesian parish since 12 yrs old led him to be elected president of the Catholic Action Group in their local chapter at 18 years old, and later on as vice president of the same youth organization at diocesan level. After finishing an engineering course in the university, he worked as a teacher and continued to be actively involved in the youth of their parish.
What is even more astounding about Alberto is that when World War II broke out in Europe, he continued to use his bicycle to serve the poor. He would risk his life to help the wounded, the dying, and the homeless. With his bicycle he would also bring food, clothing, mattresses and blankets to the needy. One day he even tried to rescue Nazi prisoners about to be deported to concentration camps. After the war he served actively as a town councilor and helped in the post-war restoration operation in his own town. He died so young at only 28 years old, in a vehicle accident while he was on his way with his bike to a meeting for the next elections.
What an amazing life he lived for such a short spun of time. If we put his life story side by side with the gospel passage we heard today regarding the parable of the Good Samaritan, he would definitely pass as a modern model of it. We see in Alberto the exact copy of the Good Samaritan mentioned by Jesus, one who is ready and willing to go out of his way, put aside his personal comforts and possible losses in terms of time and treasure just to help the poor, the dying and the needy. Alberto is definitely one disciple who loved God and his neighbor much more than himself, and did all he can to be neighbor even to poor and the prisoners of war he did not know.
What could be his secret?
When Alberto was still a child his mother would act like the "Good Samaritan" in the Marvelli family as she would always keep their house open for the poor. It was not uncommon for Alberto to see half his meal disappear right before his eyes so it could be given to the hungry. Whenever that happens, his mother used to say "Jesus has come, and he is hungry".
Moreover, as early as when he was 15 yrs old Alberto already started keeping a personal journal. There he wrote his plan of life, saying: "My programme of life is summed up in one word: holy".
And to make sure he would truly become holy he wrote a personal daily schedule which he strictly observed every day: "I rise as early as possible each morning, as soon as the alarm rings; a half-hour of meditation every day, not to be neglected except for circumstances out of my control; half an hour at least dedicated to spiritual reading; Mass every morning and Holy Communion as regularly as possible; confession once a week normally and frequent spiritual direction; daily recitation of the Rosary and Angelus at noon." Alberto was convinced that he was called to holiness and to particular mission in life, and what a joy to know that he achieved it very soon at 28 yrs old. He died in 1946 shortly after the war and was beatified in 2004.
Brothers and sisters, may this Eucharist we celebrate in honor of Bl. Alberto Marvelli inspire us and move us to do all we can to achieve God’s dream for us to be holy in our own little way.
God is good...!