Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Agatha, V.M. (5th February, 2016) on the Gospel and the Memorial


Sir 47:2-11;
Ps 17:31.47.50-51 (R. cf. v.47);
Mk 6:14-29.

Saint Agatha (231 AD – c. 251 AD) was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily. She dedicated her life to God at a tender age and resisted men who either wanted to marry her or to have sex with her. Quintian thinking he could bend her had her arrested and brought before the judge. She suffered assault and humiliation for one month in a brothel and later to prison. Agatha was tortured in various ways and refused medical care. She died in the hands of torturers[1].

Saint Agatha is the patron saint of Catania, Molise, Malta, San Marino and Zamarramala. She is also the patron saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, bell-founders, bakers, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna[2].

Topic: You can always recant.
Précis of today’s gospel: Herod heard about Jesus and thought that John the Baptist has been raised. He sent men who arrested, bound, and put John in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he married because John told him repeatedly, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife’. Although Herodias wanted to kill John but Herod protected him for he feared him because he knew John was a righteous and holy man. Herod liked listening to him despite the fact that his words did perplex him greatly. However, on Herod’s birthday Herod made a promise publicly to Herodias’ daughter who entertained him and his guests to give to her whatever she asked for. Through the instigation of her mother she requested for John the Baptist’s head and got it.

Reflection: Have you ever thought of what would have been Herod’s decision if Herodias’ daughter had requested for his own head because he did not exclude that in his oath, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you...”? I suppose your speculation is as good as mine.

Although there is an Igbo adage, okenye anaghị agbụpụchaa racharakwa meaning that a man ought to stand by his words. But this stands when the words are not uttered in error because a fool is better than a man who is hasty in his words, cf. Prov 29:20.

It is only God who does not call back His words, (cf. Is 31:2) because He is a perfect God, cf. Matt 5:48; Deut 32:4; Job 37:16; 2Chro 19:7; Ps 18:30; 92:15. Herod never thought the girl will ask such. Hence he was deeply grieved. But the big question is why did he proceed to give order? He played God; he cannot go back on his words. Wise people are ever ready to recant as soon as they discover that they are in error. There is need for steadfastness however only when it is necessary just like Saint Agatha we celebrate today did. She died for her faith in and love of God.

It is not good to make hasty statements. If one ever makes the mistake he/she should not uphold it because it is more serious. All must be humble enough to admit mistakes and to amend.

Bible Reading: Ps 90:1-17.

Thought for today: Do not stand by your mistake/s.

Let us pray: Lord, help us to stand by you always and be ever ready to amend our ways whenever we transgressed – Amen.

Saint Agatha – Pray for us.

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