5 Feb – Memorial for St. Agatha, virgin and martyr
We have little reliable information about this martyr who has been honoured since ancient times, and whose name is included in the canon of the Mass. Young, beautiful and rich, Agatha (d.250) lived a life consecrated to God. When Decius announced the edicts against Christians, the magistrate Quinctianus tried to profit by Agatha’s sanctity; he planned to blackmail her into sex in exchange for not charging her. Handed over to a brothel, she refused to accept customers.
After rejecting Quinctianus’ advances, she was beaten, imprisoned, tortured, her breasts were crushed and cut off. She told the judge, “Cruel man, have you forgotten your mother and the breast that nourished you, that you dare to mutilate me this way?” One version has it that St. Peter healed her. She was then imprisoned again, then rolled on live coals; when she was near death, an earthquake struck. In the destruction that followed, a friend of the magistrate was crushed, and the magistrate fled. Agatha thanked God for an end to her pain, and died.
Legend says that carrying her veil in procession, taken from her tomb in Catania, has averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Her intercession is reported to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion in 1551.
- Patron Saint Index
1 Kgs 3:4-13
“You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”
In today’s Gospel, we read of Jesus leading the disciples to a place for rest.
Why do we rest? What do we do during rest?
I believe we all may have very varied answers to those questions, as evident already between me and my wife. So what could Jesus mean when He invites us to rest after a long day’s work?
The answer, I believe, can be found in the first reading today. The answer to the question, “Ask what you would like me to give you”.
If God were to ask us that same question, what would our response be? Without this rest, we may have requested for something entirely different from King Solomon, something we may regret, something which may only fill us temporarily.
King Solomon, even before answering, was able to count the blessings he has received in his life, to show his gratefulness to the Lord and then goes on to say, “Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?”. King Solomon treasured his people, saw them as precious, and despite having an entirely different status from them, he saw them as equal. He saw his people not as subjects or objects; but as children of God.
His answer showed his desire to give the best for his people and not just for himself. He loved his people as much as he loved God.
We also saw the generosity of God where He gave Solomon far more than he asked for. I too, can testify to this generosity with the wonders that God has done for me. We also see this in the Gospel where, while the rest is important, Jesus took pity on the large crowd that had gathered and continued to teach and guide them.
Let us make time for rest this weekend. Do join me in prayer below.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for Your Word. We pray that we will put aside time for rest, for a break. We pray Lord, that you will guide us during our time of rest. That we can reflect on all your blessings that you have given us through the people around us, how you have provided and protected us in various events and situations daily, and especially how you are with us. Lord, it is so hard to keep our focus on you when we have so many responsibilities, expectations and just the desire to provide the best for the people around us. We want to be self-sufficient, we want to also be generous, we want to give the best for our children and our family, and we want to be the best version of ourselves. We want to do good and we want to be good. However, it seems like we haven’t been able to reach that ‘place’. Whatever we do, it always feels like we haven’t done enough; there’s not enough time, we don’t have enough energy, there are so many things outstanding which we can’t complete. Like the things we have to do come at a faster rate than our completion of them.
Dear Lord, may you grant our rest to be a time where we look beyond what we need to do or want to do, but to reflect on the why. To reconnect with our mission, our purpose, our calling, to reconnect with you. Grant us a time of peace and stillness, to find ourselves and what brings us joy in life. Give us a heart that is wise, so that we may discern between good and evil. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, would without end. Amen.