January 21, 2016

Agnes

January 21, 2016:  St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

  • '10' pin:  “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (1st reading)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  St. Agnes's martyrdom; "Why should you become guilty of shedding innocent blood?" (1st reading)
  • 'Boat' tie bar:  Jesus told his disciples to have a boat ready for him (gospel)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  The sick pressed upon Jesus to touch him (gospel)
  • White and red shirt:  St. Agnes, virgin and martyr
  • 'OneLife LA' button:  Can you believe it's the day after tomorrow?
Listen
Pope Francis homily
After the victory over the Philistines, women sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” From that day, Saul looked on David with suspicion, fearing David might betray him.  Ultimately, Saul decided to kill him.  Later he followed his son's advice and reconsidered, but his wicked thoughts returned.  Jealousy is a sickness that returns and brings with it envy.  How ugly envy is!  And jealousy or envy grows like a weed, not allowing good plants to grow, harming everything its shadow falls on.  There's no peace!  And envy leads to killing.  Through the devil's envy, death entered the world.
Envy kills; it doesn't tolerate others having something I don't.  And it always suffers, because the heart of an envious or jealous person suffers.  It is a suffering that desires others' death.  In our own communities we find people killed, through jealousy, with the tongue?  Someone is envious, begins to gossip, and gossip kills.
In your heart, is there any jealousy, any envy, that leads to death and doesn’t make you happy?  This sickness leads us to regard others' good as against us.  It's the beginning of many crimes.  Lord, give us the grace not to open our heart to jealousy or envy.  Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate because of the chief priests' and scribes' envy.  According to Pilate's interpretation, envy led to Jesus' death.  They handed him over out of envy.  Lord, may we never, out of envy, hand over a brother or sister of the parish, community, or neighborhood.  Everyone has their sins and virtues.  Look at the good, and don't kill with gossip through envy or jealousy.  [Jealousy vs. envy]

Read

  • 1 Sm 18:6-9; 19:1-7  After David slayed Goliath, women met King Saul singing, “Saul has slain thousands, and David ten thousands.”  Saul became jealous and told his son Jonathan his plans to kill David; Jonathan warned David.  Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul, Saul swore not to kill him, and Jonathan told David and brought him to Saul.
  • Ps 56:2-3, 9-13  "In God I trust; I shall not fear."  Have mercy on me; many fight against me.  You rescued me that I may walk before you.
  • Mk 3:7-12  People came to Jesus from all around.  He had cured many, and many pressed to touch him.  Unclean spirits shouted, “You are the Son of God.”
Reflect
    • Creighton:  We still battle with jealousy, perhaps even more in our consumer society.  Letting jealousy and resentment seep into our lives can poison our relationships and our spirit and make us lose sight of what we do have, including our talents and strengths.  We can dwell on how blessed we are and ask God to help us find ways to cope and overcome our challenges.  We can also ask God to help us focus on our lives and what we're doing instead of what others have. / Jesus’ worked miracles but was surrounded by so many people that he was afraid of being crushed.  Jesus was man and God; he needed space and time to reflect and refresh....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "True humility is gladness":  King Saul won a victory with the help of David's defeat of Goliath.  Proud Saul focused on the cheerleaders' giving David more credit than him.  Jealous of David, he felt no gladness David received the acclaim.  An evil spirit came over Saul, whose pride and jealousy led to his downfall.  John the Baptist led the Israelites to repentance and to prepare the Lord's way, but when Jesus came and people flocked to him, John was overjoyed.  John saw himself as the "best man," who stands happily forgotten at the altar while the groom gets attention.  With John, let us rejoice as we're humbled.

    • Passionist:  Note the emphasis on the presence of the groups in Mark’s account of Jesus’ highly successful travels throughout Galilee.  Mark mentions a “great multitude,” “great numbers,” the “crowd” threatening to crush him, the “many” he cured.  The unclean spirits hit upon this adulation to deter his campaign, and so they shouted, “you are the Son of God.”  But Jesus was not to be diverted by popularity, so he ordered them not to make him known.  St. Agnes had to deal with a similar scenario from admirers, especially the young men taken with her attractiveness.  But they couldn't woo her from her vow to give herself to Christ, and she willingly paid the price.
    May we review our vulnerability before the popularity we enjoy.  It’s an uplift to be the center of attention, to prove attractive and appealing to others, to enjoy crowd appeal.  But the biblical sources of our faith, and the saints, warn us about these allurements, in terms of the seduction overcoming Saul, and the resoluteness of Jesus and Agnes.  May our goal be pleasing God.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "All pressed upon Jesus":  What's holding you back from giving yourself to God unreservedly?  
    "By faith we touch Jesus, and better to touch him by faith than with hands only.  It was no great thing to touch him manually.  Even his oppressors touched him when they apprehended him, bound him, and crucified him, but by their ill-motivated touch they lost what they were laying hold of.  O church!  It is by touching him faithfully that your “faith has made you whole” (Augustine, Sermons, On Easter, 148).
    Why did Jesus perform so many miracles?  They showed Jesus was God, Word made flesh for our salvation:  "he performed miracles, rebuking demons, delivering from diseases whomever drew near, and displaying his power.  He did these so both Jews, who ran to him, and Greeks, might know Christ was not some ordinary man, but, on the contrary, God.  He honored these disciples with the dignity of the apostolate.  He was the Word made man but retained his own glory.  “For power went forth from him and healed all.”  Christ did not borrow strength from another person, but being God by nature, even though he had become flesh, he healed them, by demonstrating power over the sick" (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 25)
    Demons trembled in Jesus' presence; they recognized his power and authority came from heaven, not earth, but while they confessed Christ, they didn't respond in love.  How do I respond to God's word and Jesus' actions?
    • Universalis:  We don't know much about St. Agnespartly because she died at 12.  Agnes was filled God's love from an early age, vowed herself to celibacy, and didn't shy away from martyrdom.