Friday, 21 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to reflect on what the Lord had told us through the accounts of David and how he spared Saul, the King of Israel, and not killing or harming him despite having the perfect opportunity to do so. Then we also heard the calling of the Twelve Apostles as those whom the Lord had chosen as the ones to be His chief helpers in spreading the Good News and in reaching out to as many people as possible.

First of all, as we heard from the first reading from the Book of Samuel, we heard how David who was pursued by King Saul had to go into hiding from place to place, and had to go into the cave in which they were cornered. But Saul and his men were not aware that David was just within their reach. At that moment, when Saul was sleeping, it was the perfect opportunity for David to strike at Saul and claim the Kingship of Israel for himself. After all, he had been made the rightful king and the chosen, anointed one of God through the prophet Samuel.

Yet, David did not do so, and only cut a part of the king’s robe, and even that was regretted by him. He knew that Saul himself was anointed by God like himself. Although God had indeed chosen him as the new King over all Israel to replace Saul, but David still acted with honour and recognised him still as king, and he did not want harm to come either to Saul or any of his men. If David had wanted it, he could have grabbed the opportunity and ended his own suffering and trials, seizing the power that was rightfully his. But he did not do so.

That is where we see what kind of man David was. He was truly filled with love for God, a true and genuine love for his Lord and Master. He did everything to serve the Lord and to glorify His Name, and because of that, he put himself in the righteous way of the Lord. For although he has been chosen as the new King of Israel, but that should not have given him the justification to murder a person in the time of his weakness, and less still to do so for the pursuit of power and personal glory. He chose to entrust himself and his fate to the Lord, and made his peace with Saul. It was at that very same occasion in which Saul recognised David as the next, rightful King or Israel.

In the Gospel passage today, we then heard from the story of the calling of the Twelve Apostles, whom God chose from among all of His disciples. The Lord called His Apostles to be the ones to do His works and to bring forth the Good News of salvation to more people, as they did in those years after He has ascended into Heaven. The Apostles went to many places, doing the Lord’s works and establishing the foundations of the Church and building the Christian communities in those places.

They led the faithful through their righteous and just leadership, and through all that they had done in putting God’s works before everything else. They sacrificed a lot in their efforts, suffering persecutions and even having to shed blood and die for the glory of God. They had to endure exile and other forms of difficulties, and yet, they remained virtuous and patient, full of faith in the Lord and they did not allow the temptations and pressures from the world around them to sway them otherwise.

Today, all of us are also presented with the good faith and examples as set by St. Agnes, a renowned Roman martyr from the time of intense persecutions of Christians and the Church. St. Agnes was born into a noble family in Rome, and she was also born as a Christian. At that time, the Roman state and the Emperor were very much against the Christian faith and the Church, and in one last brutal attempt to eradicate them and destroy the threat that Christianity posed to the traditional Roman beliefs and religion.

St. Agnes as a young Roman noblewoman had many suitors and those who were interested in her. Many of those suitors were rejected by St. Agnes as she had dedicated herself to the purity of her dedication to God. She consecrated herself and her virginity, not allowing any of those men to desecrate her virginity and sanctity. This led to some among her suitors to be angry at her, and reported her to the authorities as a suspected Christian, which was a crime then punishable by death.

The Roman prefect, named Sempronius condemned her to death and attempted to kill her by various methods. However, the attempts by several men to defile her virginity failed because they were immediately struck blind before the deed. The attempts to hurt her by other means such as burning on a stake also failed when the flames refused to burn the wood. Eventually, it was by beheading or being stabbed in the throat that St. Agnes met her end through martyrdom, and yet her reward in God is glorious.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have just discussed and through the life of St. Agnes of Rome, we can see how God was always with us and He has always guided us and protected us just as how He prevented those men from defiling the sacred virginity of St. Agnes. The Lord has always been with us and He will guard us against those that intend to harm us. We must have faith in Him and believe in His providence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore put ourselves in the hands of the Lord and commit ourselves to His embrace, knowing that in Him alone lies our hope and our salvation. May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength to follow Him wholeheartedly rom now on, and always, without fear or worry. Amen.

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