tuesday 21 JANUARY 2020
St. Agnes (- 304)
As with so many of the early Roman martyrs, very little is now known about Agnes’ life. Agnes was filled with the love of God from an early age, vowed herself to celibacy, and when the opportunity of martyrdom arose, she did not hide away but stepped forward and took it.
Behold, now she follows the Lamb who was crucified for us, powerful in virginity, modesty her offering, a sacrifice on the altar of chastity.
Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you go on mourning over Saul when I have rejected him as king of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel replied, ‘How can I go? When Saul hears of it he will kill me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and then I myself will tell you what you must do; you must anoint to me the one I point out to you.’ Samuel did what the Lord ordered and went to Bethlehem. The elders of the town came trembling to meet him and asked, ‘Seer, have you come with good intentions towards us?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ He purified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, he caught sight of Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed one stands there before him’, but the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Take no notice of his appearance or his height for I have rejected him; God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Jesse then called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel, who said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse then presented Shammah, but Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ He then asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ He answered, ‘There is still one left, the youngest; he is out looking after the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he comes.’ Jesse had him sent for, a boy of fresh complexion, with fine eyes and pleasant bearing. The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on. As for Samuel, he rose and went to Ramah.
R/ I have found David, my servant.
- Of old you spoke in a vision. To your friends the prophets you said: ‘I have set the crown on a warrior, I have exalted one chosen from the people.
- ‘I have found David my servant and with my holy oil anointed him. My hand shall always be with him and my arm shall make him strong.
- ‘He will say to me: “You are my father, my God, the rock who saves me.” And I will make him my first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.’
Gospel Acclamation Ps 118:18
Alleluia, alleluia! Open my eyes, O Lord, that I may consider the wonders of your law. Alleluia!
Gospel: Mark 2:23-28
One sabbath day, Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick ears of corn as they went along. And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing something on the sabbath day that is forbidden?’ And he replied, ‘Did you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?’ And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath.’
Prayer over the Offerings
May the offerings we bring in celebration of St. Agnes win your gracious acceptance, O Lord, we pray, just as the struggle of her suffering and passion was pleasing to you. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon Rv 7: 17
The Lamb who is at the centre of the throne will lead them to the springs of the waters of life.
Prayer after Communion
O God, who bestowed on St. Agnes a crown among the Saints for her twofold triumph of virginity and martyrdom, grant, we pray, through the power of this Sacrament, that, bravely overcoming every evil, we may attain the glory of heaven. Through Christ our Lord.
God’s ways are not our ways and his values are not our values. God sends Samuel to choose a king to succeed Saul. He sent him to choose the least likely son of Jesse, one whom Jesse himself did not even consider as a possibility. That son was David, who became the greatest king in the history of the Israelites. We have been chosen by God to be a kingly and priestly people. It was God who made David king and it is God who made us his people, both out of his own goodness. We have a duty to give thanks and praise to God for his unmerited goodness to us.