February 5, 2016
(Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr)
Yeshua Ben Sira writes about David . . . As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people’s disgrace, . . . With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise. With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung; Sir_47:2-11
With our whole being, beloved, we are to love, worship and praise our God. We give Him thanks for every breath we take. And we use each breath to give Him thanks for another moment to raise up His children, our neighbors, those who suffer, those who struggle with life, those who have lost their way, those who refuse to believe. In Him, we live and move and have our being. Through Him we can defeat even the giant who would love nothing more than to lop off our heads. But these heads are precious in the eyes of God. And even in death we have – Life Eternal!
Praise be to Jesus, God our Father and the Holy Spirit!
Nursing Home Homily:
In the last beatitude, Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Mt 5:10 Today we venerate three blessed martyrs who were canonized for that same Beatitude: St. John the Baptist, St. Agatha and St. Blaise, whose feast day was Wednesday.
When we think about it, these were just a few of the millions of people, throughout the ages, who have allowed or offered their lives to be taken for the love of their God – just like Jesus did.
And we can think about it, and we can read about it, and we can watch it in movies, but we really have no idea what that kind of persecution is really like, here in our free and prosperous country.
We might even say that John the Baptist had it easy compared to some of the others. For though he was imprisoned, his death came quickly. It’s sad, but funny, that John’s death was caused by the fickleness of a child, directed by the devious, vindictive and evil nature of a Queen, and a King with no backbone. John did die for God. Though his death was really caused by evil versus good. It was caused by sin versus righteousness, and not for
the sake of his ‘standing for God.’ Yet, later on, that ‘standing for God’ would become the reason for the deaths of many other saints.
St. Agatha and St. Blaise, for example, were imprisoned and brutally tortured because of their faith in God, their faith in Jesus.
Which makes us wonder, just what is it about this God of ours that would enable us with the strength to allow someone to take our lives like that? What is it that could possibly cause us to allow someone to set us on fire, to cut off our breasts, or to scrape our skin off with an iron rake, before they cut our heads off?
Sirach hints on the answer to that question with the character of King David. He says that, “With his every deed, David offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise.”
So to start with, we have to recognize that our very existence is all and only because of God. And in that recognition, we give God thanks for every breath we are able take. And then we understand, that every breath we are able to take – is all and only given to us – FOR God, for His purpose . . .
That with every breath we take, we are called to raise up God’s children, our neighbors (to build God’s Kingdom) . . .
And in our continual gift of thanksgiving, we slowly begin to Fall in Love with this God. This God who is our Creator and our Savior; Our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier.
We come to understand Paul’s comment that “In Him, we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28
We come to understand that – through Him we can defeat even that giant who would love nothing more than to lop off our heads.
You see, in our thanksgiving, we begin to fall so deeply in love with this God, that we would even give the skin off our backs for Him – just as Jesus did for us.
And in our love for God, we also come to understand that these very heads of ours, and every hair on them, are precious in His eyes. Not just nice, but Precious! – just as our own children are so very precious to us!
And we come to understand that even in death, God gives us – Life Eternal!
Sirach tells us, that “With his whole being David loved his Maker.” With their whole beings, John and Agatha and Blaise loved their God so boundlessly, that they were willing to suffer greatly for a little while, knowing that their reward from God would last forever.
Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Mt 5:1
And how very blessed are those who love their God so boundlessly, that they are WILLING to be persecuted for His sake!
For Bible References, go to USCCB site for Readings of 2-5-16: LINK
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