Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saint Agnes, Day of Penance

Today is the day of Walk for Life, West Coast, 2012.  I can't attend this year, because I'll be giving a reflection at a mass at the same time as the event.  In fact, this is the reflection I'll be giving.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012.  Feast of Saint Agnes, Day of Penance (US).  First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.

Today is the feast day of Saint Agnes, one of the early church martyrs.  She was born in Rome, in the year 292.  At that time, the Emperor, Diocletian, had a law which said that everyone in the city had to sacrifice to the Roman gods.  And when the time came around for Agnes' family to make their sacrifice, they brought her to the temple, and she was asked to pour out some incense to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.  But instead, Agnes made the sign of the cross over the altar, and she showed the Romans what true wisdom was, by talking about Jesus Christ.  Shortly afterwards, she was arrested and killed.

The story of Saint Agnes is a perfect reflection of Saint Paul's words in the first reading today.  He says that God does not always choose people who are wise or rich or powerful.  Instead, God likes to choose people who are weak and poor and despised, people who count for nothing in this world.  In the case of Saint Agnes, God chose a young girl from an unknown family, in order to bring shame to the wealthy Roman noblemen.

Saint Agnes knew it was important to do the right thing and honor God, even if it meant breaking her country's laws.  We here in America are called to do the same thing.  This Monday, the US Bishops have declared a day of penance; they are asking us to pray for our country, because there are many laws which are immoral and unjust, and there are many Americans who are suffering.

As you know, America is founded upon the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But unfortunately, there are too many Americans who pervert these ideals; they want to have an easy life, so they take liberties with other people, and they pursue happiness, instead of holiness.  And so today, we pray that, through the intercession of Saint Agnes, America may become a better country, one that supports and protects all its citizens.  We also pray in order to strengthen the bonds of unity between the various peoples of America, and we work to break down the barriers that divide us from each other.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice reflection. And yes, it's true: many Americans do have a tendency to pursue happiness over holiness. It's great to know that there are still some DECENT Americans. But we have a question: coming from the Philippines, a country with honors and rights, is it true that Americans are arrogant and may have no manners? That's what I've heard from some people...

Anonymous said...

This is the same person who wrote the first comment. We take the "country with honors and rights" so we do not insult America. Instead, we shall say, a country with our personal beliefs for happiness and holiness. We mean SOME Americans, not all. Hope fully you get the picture.

Michael Gray said...

When America first became a country, they decided to get rid of honors and honorifics. They did this partially to emphasize the equality of all our citizens, and partially to distinguish the United States from England.

I've been in situations where I've upset some Filipino people, because I didn't use honorifics. They thought I had no manners, but I wasn't trying to be rude. I just didn't know about them, because we don't have them in our country. So, in general, Americans will ignore honorifics, which can unintentionally come across as rude.

Anonymous said...

To bring shame to the Romans? That doesn't sound like something God would do. He doesn't purposefully choose people who are weak and poor, he chooses people who love him and want to serve him.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes. Please correct that to give a more appropriate meaning.

Michael Gray said...

Nope, the section about God purposely choosing the weak is taken, almost word for word, from Paul's letter to the Corinthians (the first reading). I'm unwilling to rewrite Scripture for my own purposes; therefore, the homily will stay as it was written.

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree! But add "who love God". It gives a better understanding to the young folks.