21 January, Thursday — A Sacrifice Like No Other

Jan 21 – Memorial for St. Agnes, virgin and martyr

At the age of 12 or 13, St. Agnes was ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods and lose her virginity by rape. She was taken to a Roman temple to 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, that she would keep her consecrated virginity intact, accept death, and see Christ. She was martyred for her faith.

St. Agnes is mentioned in the first Eucharistic prayer. On her feast day, two lambs are blessed at her church in Rome, and then their wool is woven into the palliums (bands of white wool) which the pope confers on archbishops as a symbol of their jurisdiction.

  • Patron Saint Index

Heb 7:25-8:6
Mk 3:7-12

…the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens; … he has done this once and for all by offering himself.

Already, to set aside time for Sunday mass seems like a daunting task, that many of us drag ourselves to church or to watch the online streams. Sometimes, we even consider our Sunday masses as a sacrifice, not as a gift to God, but a sacrifice of our time from going about what we actually want to do on the weekends. Then there are other sacrifices that we try to make from time to time, like abstinence during Lent, on Fridays, almsgiving, sometimes even our voluntary services in church are seen by us as sacrificing for God or for our salvation, instead of being a gift to Him and to His church.

In today’s readings, we see how Christ made the ultimate sacrifice — when he made a gift of Himself to God and to His church. He could do so not just by His will alone, but by knowing and understanding His Father’s will. He was clear of His mission and calling. We also read in the Gospel where even the unclean spirits knew that Christ is the Son of God and would fall down before him. But sadly, for many of us, we still have little faith and little knowledge of who our God is and the extent of His love for us, that we fail to make a gift of ourselves and instead, see our ‘offerings’ and ‘service’ as sacrifices or as ‘work for our salvation’.

And so, all our ‘sacrifices’ are hardly perfect as men are all subject to weakness, hence Christ who is High Priest and also the Law, made perfect this sacrifice forever on our behalf, that we may attain salvation even when we are undeserving.

The psalmist teaches us how we can best respond and make a gift of ourselves by answering God’s call as we say “Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Lord, we pray that we will learn to count more of our blessings instead of the costs. We pray for a recognising of the gifts you have given unto us and how, we too, can be gifts for others. Lord, we pray that we may get to know you better and to know your calling for us. Help us to respond to the needs of others. In all that we do, may we always learn from you. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for the sacrifice you made for us. We thank you for your patience with us whenever we fail you or when our faith falters. Thank you for the gift of yourself, the greatest gift we will ever receive. Amen.

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