St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
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 : Hebrews 7:25-8:6
The power of Jesus to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him. To suit us, the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens; one who would not need to offer sacrifices every day, as the other high priests do for their own sins and then for those of the people, because he has done this once and for all by offering himself. The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever. The great point of all that we have said is that we have a high priest of exactly this kind. He has his place at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tent of Meeting which the Lord, and not any man, set up. It is the duty of every high priest to offer gifts and sacrifices, and so this one too must have something to offer. In fact, if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are others who make the offerings laid down by the Law and these only maintain the service of a model or a reflection of the heavenly realities. For Moses, when he had the Tent to build, was warned by God who said: See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. We have seen that he has been given a ministry of a far higher order, and to the same degree it is a better covenant of which he is the mediator, founded on better promises.
Psalm 39 (40):7-10,17
R/ Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.
- You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings, but an open ear. You do not ask for holocaust and victim. Instead, here am I.
- In the scroll of the book it stands written that I should do your will. My God, I delight in your law in the depth of my heart.
- Your justice I have proclaimed in the great assembly. My lips I have not sealed; you know it, O Lord.
- O let there be rejoicing and gladness for all who seek you. Let them ever say: ‘The Lord is great’, who love your saving help.
Gospel Acclamation cf.Jn6:63,68
Alleluia, alleluia! Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life; you have the message of eternal life Alleluia!
Gospel : Mark 3:7-12
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lakeside, and great crowds from Galilee followed him. From Judaea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, Transjordania and the region of Tyre and Sidon, great numbers who had heard of all he was doing came to him. And he asked his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, to keep him from being crushed. For he had cured so many that all who were afflicted in any way were crowding forward to touch him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw him, would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he warned them strongly not to make him known.
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.
The gospel mirrors in some way the opening words of the first reading. Huge crowds from all over follow Jesus on account of his healing. Jesus is authentic and there is power in his words because he is “holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens”. As Christians, we can and should seek to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, and beyond the influence of sinners, so that the Father may put His seal on our thought, speech and action and grant us the grace to remain constantly in union with Him.