JANUARY 16 Mon Weekday Heb 5:1-10/Mk 2:18-22
17 Tue Saint Anthony, Abbot Memorial Heb 6:10-20/Mk 2:23-28
18 Wed Weekday Heb 7:1-3, 15-17/Mk 3:1-6
19 Thu Weekday Heb 7:25—8:6/Mk 3:7-12
20 Fri Weekday [St Fabian, Pope Martyr; St Sebastian, Martyr] Heb 8:6-13/Mk 3:13-19
21 Sat St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr Memorial Heb 9:2-3, 11-14/Mk 3:20-21
22 SUN 3RD SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME Is 8:23—9:3/1 Cor 1:10-13, 17/Mt 4:12-23
In the Gospel of Mark this week Jesus confronts opposition, and we also remember a young girl, Agnes, and a soldier, Sebastian, who made him known to early Christians by following him into the mystery of his death and resurrection. They tell us to witness to him in our time.
Mark’s Gospel this week says the scribes, Pharisees and Herodians saw Jesus as a danger to their society and brought him to his death. Roman judges and leaders saw Agnes challenging the norms of their world, and Sebastian betraying their military code. They must die. Their stories correspond well with Mark’s account of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and his eventual death and resurrection in Jerusalem.They were treated unjustly.
The two Roman martyrs must also have faced rejection by their own families and friends, as Jesus faced rejection in Nazareth. Jesus is not the only one who bears the mystery of the Cross; his followers bear it too. In fact, it’s part of everyone’s life.
Yet Mark’s Gospel sees Jesus going forward, still drawing crowds, still casting out demons, forging ahead to new ground in spite of opposition. The mystery of the Cross leads to Resurrection and the coming of God’s kingdom. It does not end in death.
Nor do the stories of martyrs end in death; they share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.“ If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13-14) The martyrs follow the Suffering Christ–as one sees already in the story of first martyr, Stephen, so carefully crafted to show Stephen following Jesus.
Waiting for an executioner’s sword in the arena, Agnes also sees the heavens open and with arms outstretched says: “ I pray to you, holy Father; behold, I am coming to you, whom I have loved, whom I have sought, whom I have always desired.”
Read the scriptures. Also remember the saints, young girls and soldiers, men and women from every time and place, who heard the same Word we do and believed in that Word. They say : “Follow him.”
Dear Father Victor, thank you for your powerful reflection. Like Mary, we are called to follow Him, as companions, “…not to be a spectator, but a partner in the sacrifice of her Son.” –Blessed Dominic Barbieri, CP (In, Following Jesus Christ, edited by Victor Hoagland, CP, p. 74). And, also from your book, A Young Person’s Prayer: “Call me Lord. Call my name. And I will follow you.” (p. 183)
LikeLiked by 1 person
Listen first to hear love call,
Before you decide to follow.
Attention to God’s voice
Filter out noisy lies,
Absorb peaceful vibes.
Follow where your soul leads
Fear not, he said, I am with you.
Through thick or thin, wheat or weeds.