Thứ Sáu, 20 tháng 1, 2017

JANUARY 21, 2017 : MEMORIAL OF SAINT AGNES, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
Lectionary: 316

A tabernacle was constructed, the outer one,
in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of offering; 
this is called the Holy Place.
Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. 

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, 
passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, 
that is, not belonging to this creation, 
he entered once for all into the sanctuary, 
not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own Blood, 
thus obtaining eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes 
can sanctify those who are defiled 
so that their flesh is cleansed, 
how much more will the Blood of Christ, 
who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

Responsorial PsalmPS 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
R. (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
For king of all the earth is God:
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

AlleluiaACTS 16:14B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 3:20-21
Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, 
for they said, "He is out of his mind." 


Meditation: "People were saying of Jesus, 'He is beside himself' "
: Is the Lord Jesus honored in your home? Why would Jesus' relatives be so upset with him when he began his public ministry? On one occasion Jesus remarked that a man's enemies will be the members of his own household (Matthew 10:36). The Gospel of Mark records the reaction of Jesus' relatives when he went home: they came to seize him. They, no doubt, thought that Jesus must have gone mad or become a religious fanatic. How could a good home-body from Nazareth leave his carpentry trade and go off to become a traveling preacher? To their way of thinking, Jesus had thrown away the security and safety of a quiet and respectable life close to his family and relatives. 
Do not be afraid to follow Jesus all the way
Jesus probably expected to meet opposition from the highest religious authorities in Jerusalem. For him to meet opposition from his own relatives must have been even harder. When we choose to be disciples of the Lord Jesus and to follow his will for our lives, we can expect to meet opposition from those who are opposed to the Gospel message and Christian way of life. But the hardest opposition may actually come from someone close to us, a family member or close friend who doesn't want us to take the Gospel message too seriously. 
Jesus met opposition - whether from family, friend, or foe - with grace and determination to fulfill his Father's will. Are you ready to obey and follow the Lord Jesus even if others oppose your doing so?
"Lord Jesus, may I always put you first and find joy in doing your will. May your love and charity grow in me, especially in the face of opposition and adversity."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersJesus' worried kinfolk, by Jerome (347-420 AD)
"In the Gospel we read that even his kinsfolk desired to bind him as one of weak mind (Mark 3:21). His opponents also reviled him saying, 'You are a Samaritan and have a devil' (John 8:48)." (excerpt from LETTER 108, TO EUSTOCHIUM)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, MARK 3:20-21
(Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14; Psalm 47)

KEY VERSE: "Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat" (v 20).
TO KNOW: Jesus returned to his home in Capernaum, which was probably Peter's house (Mk 1:29). The crowds who gathered outside became so demanding, that Jesus and his disciples did not even have time to eat. Jesus' family members had trouble comprehending the life-style of this ascetic, itinerant preacher with rag-tag followers. Among them were some fishermen, a tax-collector, and even a fanatical nationalist. These were not the kind of people with whom one would want to associate. His family feared that Jesus had lost his mind, and they decided to take charge of the matter since it seemed that he could not handle his own affairs. What appalled Jesus' family and friends was the risks he was taking -- he had given up security, safety and ambition, which, as they thought, no sensible man would ever do since it might cost him his reputation, and possibly his life.
TO LOVE: How do I respond when others misunderstand my commitment to the Lord?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, strengthen me to endure any criticism as I follow you.​​

Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

Agnes' name means "chaste lamb." Agnes, the daughter of a noble Roman family, had become a Christian. She was martyred for her belief during the persecution of Diocletian in 304, or possibly earlier. Agnes was ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods and lose her virginity by rape. She was taken to a Roman temple of Minerva (Athena), and when led to the altar, she made the Sign of the Cross. She was threatened, then tortured when she refused to turn against God. Several young men presented themselves, offering to marry her, whether from lust or pity is not known. She said that to do so would be an insult to her heavenly Spouse, and she would keep her consecrated virginity intact, accept death, and see Christ in Heaven. According to early accounts, her enraged persecutors attempted to burn Agnes, and when this failed, they decapitated her. Testimony to her courageous witness was given in an account by Saint Ambrose (340-387) in "De Virginibus." Pope Damasus (ca. 304-384) extolled the heroism and virtue of the young girl, reportedly telling in a poem how she bravely faced fire, concerned only that her stripped body be covered by her long hair. Since the early middle-ages, Saint Agnes is usually depicted holding a lamb as a symbol of her purity. 

ST. AGNES

On Jan. 21, the Roman Catholic Church honors the virgin and martyr St. Agnes, who suffered death for her consecration to Christ.
Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition celebrate her feast day Jan. 14.
Although the details of Agnes' life are mostly unknown, the story of her martyrdom has been passed on with reverence since the fourth century. On the feast day of the young martyr – whose name means “lamb” in Latin – the Pope traditionally blesses lambs, whose wool will be used to make the white pallium worn by archbishops.
Born into a wealthy family during the last decade of the third century, Agnes lived in Rome during the last major persecution of the early Church under the Emperor Diocletian. Though he was lenient toward believers for much of his rule, Diocletian changed course in 302, resolving to wipe out the Church in the empire.
Agnes came of age as the Church was beginning to suffer under a set of new laws decreed by Diocletian, and his co-ruler Galerius, in 303. The emperor and his subordinate called for churches to be destroyed and their books burned. Subsequent orders led to the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons, for the sake of compelling them to worship the emperor instead of Christ.
Meanwhile, Agnes had become a young woman of great beauty and charm, drawing the attention of suitors from the first ranks of the Roman aristocracy. But in keeping with the words of Christ and Saint Paul, she had already decided on a life of celibacy for the sake of God's kingdom. To all interested men, she explained that she had already promised herself to a heavenly and unseen spouse.
These suitors both understood Agnes' meaning, and resented her resolution. Some of the men, possibly looking to change her mind, reported her to the state as a believer in Christ. Agnes was brought before a judge who tried first to persuade her, and then to threaten her, into renouncing her choice not to marry for the Lord's sake.
When the judge showed her the various punishments he could inflict – including fire, iron hooks, or the rack that destroyed the limbs by stretching – Agnes smiled and indicated she would suffer them willingly. But she was brought before a pagan altar instead, and asked to make an act of worship in accordance with the Roman state religion.
When Agnes refused, the judge ordered that she should be sent to a house of prostitution, where the virginity she had offered to God would be violated. Agnes predicted that God would not allow this to occur, and her statement proved true. The first man to approach her in the brothel was struck blind by a sudden flash of light, and others opted not to repeat his mistake.
But one of the men who had at first sought to make Agnes his own, now lobbied the judge for her execution. In this respect, the suitor obtained his desire, when the public official sentenced her to die by beheading. The executioner gave her one last chance to spare her life, by renouncing her consecration to Christ – but Agnes refused, made a short prayer, and courageously submitted to death.
St. Agnes, who died in 304, was venerated as a holy martyr from the fourth century onward. She is mentioned in the Latin Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.

LECTIO DIVINA: MARK 3,20-21
Lectio Divina: 
 Saturday, January 21, 2017
Ordinary Time


1) Opening prayer
Almighty God,
ruler of all things in heaven and on earth,
listen favourably to the prayer of your people,
and grant us your peace in our day.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel reading - Mark 3,20-21
Jesus went home again, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. 21 When his relations heard of this, they set out to take charge of him; they said, 'He is out of his mind.'

3) Reflection
• The Gospel today is very short. There are only two verses. It speaks about two things: (a) about the great activity of Jesus up to the point of not even having time to eat, and (b) the contrary reaction of the family of Jesus up to the point of thinking that he was out of his mind. Jesus had problems with his family. Sometimes, the family helps, and other times it constitutes an obstacle. This is what happened with Jesus, and this is what happens with us also.
• Mark 3, 20: The activity of Jesus. Jesus returned home. His home is now in Capernaum (Mk 2, 1). He is no longer living with his family in Nazareth. People knowing that Jesus was in the house, they went there. Such a crowd of people gathered there that He and his disciples did not even have time to eat calmly (Mk 6, 31)
• Mark 3, 20: Conflict with his family. When Jesus’ relatives knew this, they said: “He has lost his mind!” Perhaps, this was so because Jesus did not seem to be behaving normally. Perhaps, because they thought that with this he jeopardized the name of the family. Whatever it was, the relatives decided to take him back to Nazareth. This is a sign that the relationship of Jesus with his family was suffering. This must have been a source of suffering, for him as well as for Mary, his Mother. Later on (Mk 3, 31-35) Mark tells how the encounter of Jesus with his relatives was. They arrived to the house where Jesus was staying. Probably they had gone there from Nazareth. There is a distance of about 40 km. from there to Capernaum. His mother was with them. They could not enter the house because there were many people there at the entrance. This is the reason why they sent him a message: “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you!” The reaction of Jesus was firm and he asked: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And he himself answers pointing out to the crowd gather there around him: “Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother”. He extended the family! Jesus does not allow the family to draw him away from the mission.
• The situation of the family at the time of Jesus. In the ancient Israel, the clan, that is, the large family (the community) was the basis of social living together. This was the protection of the small families and of the persons, the guarantee of the possession of the land, the principal channel of tradition, the defence of identity. That was the concrete way in which the people of that time had to incarnate the love of God in the love toward neighbour. To defend the clan, the community it was the same as to defend the Covenant. In Galilee at the time of Jesus, because of the Roman system, introduced and imposed during the long years of government of Herod the Great (37 BC to 4 BC) and of his son Herod Antipas (4 BC to 39 AD), all this had ceased to exist, or existed every day less. The clan (community) was becoming weaker. The taxes that had to be paid to the government and to the Temple, the increasing getting into debt, the individualist mentality of the Hellenistic ideology, the frequent threats of the violent repression on the part of the Romans, the obligation to accept the soldiers and to give them lodging, the always greater problems for survival, all this led the families to close up in themselves and in their own needs. Hospitality was no longer practiced; neither was sharing, nor communion around the table, the acceptance of the excluded. This closing up was strengthened by the religion of the time. The observance of the norms of purity was a factor of marginalization for many people: women, children Samaritans, foreigners, lepers, possessed, publicans or tax collectors, the sick, mutilated persons, the paraplegics. These norms, instead of helping and favouring acceptance, sharing and communion, favoured separation and exclusion.
Thus, the political, social and economic situation as well as the religious ideology of the time, everything was against and contributed to weaken the central values of the clan, of the community. Therefore, in order that the Kingdom of God could manifest itself, once again, in the community living of the people, persons had to overcome the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves up once again to the large family, the Community.
Jesus gives the example. When his relatives get to Capernaum and try to take hold of him to take him back home, he reacts. Instead of remaining closed up in his small family, he extends the family (Mk 3, 33-35). He creates the community. He asks the same thing to those who want to follow him. Families cannot close up in themselves. The excluded and the marginalized should be accepted, once again, into the community, and in this way feel accepted by God (cf. Lk 14, 12-14). This is the path to be followed in order to attain the objective of the Law which said: “Let there be no poor among you” (Dt 15, 4). Just like the great prophets, Jesus tries to strengthen and affirm community life in the villages of Galilee. He takes the profound sense or significance of the clan, of the family, of the community, like an expression of the incarnation of the love of God in the love toward neighbour.

4) Personal questions
• Does the family help participation in the Christian community or does it make it difficult? How do you assume your commitment in the Christian community?
• What can all this tell us concerning our relationships in the family and in the community?

5) Concluding prayer
Clap your hands, all peoples,
acclaim God with shouts of joy.
For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious,
the great king over all the earth. (Ps 47,1-2)