Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Agnes of Rome, V.M., (21st January, 2020) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 88:20-22.27-28 (R. v.21);
Saint Agnes of Rome was born c. 291 AD in a wealthy Christian family. She was very beautiful. Agnes vowed to God never to stain her purity. As a result she turned all those seeking for her hand in marriage down including Procop, the Governor's son. In great anger he brought her to his father accusing her of being a Christian. Despite all the promises made her by the Governor Agnes did not change her mind. Finally, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young (12 or 13 years old) and beautiful girl going to death. She prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword on 21 January 304.
Saint Agnes is the patron saint of young girls, chastity, rape survivors, gardeners, engaged couples, and the Children of Mary. She is often represented with a lamb, the symbol of her virgin innocence, and a palm branch, like other martyrs. She is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism.
Topic: Sabbath for humankind.
In today’s gospel, Jesus’ disciples plucked heads of grain as He went through the grain fields. The Pharisees frowned at it as unlawful on the sabbath. Jesus reminded them what happened when Abiathar was high priest. David and his men entered the house of God when they were hungry and in need of food. They ate the bread of the Presence which was lawful for priests alone. Jesus concluded with this popular verse: “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath ...” (Mk 2:27).
What worried the Pharisees was the observance of the sabbatical laws. The welfare of the people means little or nothing to them.
We are in the world full of assorted laws – religious, civil, group, family, and so on. Some of these laws have no other reason why they still exist other than that they were handed down by forefathers, cf. Matt 15:2; Mk 7:5. Many of these laws have little or nothing to contribute to the good of humans. And some are truly burdens and instruments of oppression.
It is disheartening that many are either afraid, or unconcerned, or too weak to take stand against unjust laws. Today’s gospel challenges us to see that laws are for the good of the people following the example of Saint Agnes of Rome and other early Christians. Through their efforts, we enjoy today religious freedom in different parts of the world. Even the ten commandments of God are for our good. God delights in our welfare cf. Ps 35:27.
Bible Reading: 1Cor 10:23–11:1.
Thought for today: Laws are for the good of the people.
Let us pray: Eternal lawgiver, help those who make laws and those who apply them to work for the common good – Amen.
Saint Agnes of Rome – Pray for us.
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