Saturday, 5 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God in the Sacred Scriptures we are reminded to put our faith in the Lord and to trust in Him, asking Him for strength and guidance in our respective journeys of life. We are all called to follow Him and to walk in His path, modelling ourselves and our lives based on all that He has taught us through His Apostles and disciples, and through all the holy men and women, all those who have dedicated themselves to walk in the path of the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard of the time when King Solomon of Israel, the son of King David who succeeded him as the king over all the people of God, the Israelites. We heard how Solomon, who was then still young and inexperienced, asked the Lord for wisdom and guidance so that he might be able to follow in the great examples set by his father. He prayed for wisdom to be a good leader for the people of God, asking the Lord to show him the path forward as he took over the kingship and leadership from his father.

The Lord did not just grant Solomon what he had asked for, because he did not ask for more wealth, power or glory unlike what most people would have asked for. He humbly asked for wisdom and guidance to be a good leader for the people of God, and God gave him just that, a wisdom unsurpassed by others, which made him famous beyond the lands of Israel. At the same time, God gave Solomon wealth, power and glory unsurpassed and unmatched, and this made the kingdom of Israel to be a great kingdom at the height of its power.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the works of the Lord and His disciples as they went from place to place ministering to the people, proclaiming the truth of God and the Good News of His salvation. There were so many people following them and desiring to listen to the Lord that the disciples were often overwhelmed. They could not even have a proper time to rest. As we heard in our Gospel today, even when they finally managed to get away to a secluded place on their own, the people managed to figure out where they were going and went there ahead of them.

There, despite the tiring works that He had done earlier, the Lord still ministered to the people, teaching them and speaking to them, spending a lot of time with them. It was at that time when the disciples were likely given a time to rest while the Lord continued to work tirelessly, reaching out to His people. We saw in that occasion just how beloved each and every one of us are to God, and how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a manner by the Lord. God has sent to us His only begotten Son to be our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Through what we have heard today, we have seen how God loves us, wants to be reconciled and reunited with us, that He reached out to us and bestow upon us His blessings and graces. However, more often than not, we are not able to grasp His love and efforts because we are too busy with our many preoccupations and worldly desires. We are often too busy thinking about our many concerns and plans in life to notice God and His presence in our lives, only remembering Him when we have need of Him, and forgetting Him when we do not need Him.

Today, all of us are called to be like Solomon, in humbling ourselves before the Lord and asking for His guidance and wisdom, so that we may discern carefully our path in life going forward from now on. And we also should model ourselves based on the examples set by one of our holy predecessors, whose feast we celebrate today. St. Agatha of Sicily, a renowned martyr and saint from the time of the Great Persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperors can indeed inspire us to be better Christians in true deeds and actions.

St. Agatha was born into a noble Roman family and she made a vow of holy and perpetual virginity, which she offered to God freely and wholeheartedly. Her great beauty was noted by a pagan Roman prefect named Quintianus, who did all he could to try to persuade and coax her to marry him. But despite his best efforts, his pressure and even threats, all those could not sway St. Agatha from abandoning her vow of virginity and her faith in the Lord. She remained resolute in her conviction and desire to follow the Lord.

As that time coincided with the intense persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Decius, which was a particularly brutal period of intense persecution against Christians, the displeased and disappointed prefect reported St. Agatha to the authorities, and as the prefect Quintianus himself presided over the trial, he hoped that the threat of suffering and death would make St. Agatha to give up her stubborn resistance and refusal to abandon her faith in God. Instead, St. Agatha remained even more ardent in her faith and refused to give up.

She prayed to the Lord saying, “Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, You know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am Your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.” And despite the efforts the prefect tried to incarcerate, torture and make her life difficult, St. Agatha would not be swayed and she remained faithful to the very end. She was tortured with all sorts of punishments, and had her breasts cut, surviving a burning at the stake before eventually dying in prison, remaining faithful to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all be inspired by the great examples set before us by the young King Solomon and by St. Agatha, the great Holy Virgin and Martyr. Let us all follow their examples in faith and commit ourselves to walk in the path of faith and grow ever stronger in faith and loving God more and more with each and every passing moments. Let us all seek the Lord with ever greater conviction and ask Him for guidance and strength that we may draw ever closer to Him, now and always. Amen.

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