We love to think how good we are when we pray for the opponent in war or in politics. That, of course, is the trap of pride, and it can deflect us from the real things we need to bring to God in prayer. It is a great deal more difficult to love the one who has hurt us. We do not need to excuse wrongs, or even to forget them, but we must always forgive. — from Sacred Silence
As in the case of Agnes, another virgin-martyr of the early Church, almost nothing is historically certain about this saint except that she was martyred in Sicily during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251.
Legend has it that Agatha, like Agnes, was arrested as a Christian, tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated, and was later put to death.
She is claimed as the patroness of both Palermo and Catania. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
The scientific modern mind winces at the thought of a volcano's might being contained by God because of the prayers of a Sicilian girl. Still less welcome, probably, is the notion of that saint being the patroness of such varied professions as those of foundry workers, nurses, miners and Alpine guides. Yet, in our historical precision, have we lost an essential human quality of wonder and poetry, and even our belief that we come to God by helping each other, both in action and prayer?
When Agatha was arrested, the legend says, she prayed: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things! You see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am—you alone. I am your sheep; make me worthy to overcome the devil." And in prison: "Lord, my creator, you have protected me since I was in the cradle. You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Now receive my spirit."
"Be still and know that I am God" Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek Your Loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.<
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instil in my heart a desire To know and love you more each day.
At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to you. I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations. I will take rest and refreshment in your presence Lord.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Sir 47:2-11
Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings, so was David in Israel. He made sport of lions as though they were kids, and of bears, like lambs of the flock. As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people's disgrace, When his hand let fly the slingstone that crushed the pride of Goliath. Since he called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm To defeat the skilled warrior and raise up the might of his people, Therefore the women sang his praises, and ascribed to him tens of thousands and praised him when they blessed the Lord. When he assumed the royal crown, he battled and subdued the enemy on every side. He destroyed the hostile Philistines and shattered their power till our own day. 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; He set singers before the altar and by their voices he made sweet melodies, He added beauty to the feasts and solemnized the seasons of each year So that when the Holy Name was praised, before daybreak the sanctuary would resound. The LORD forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever; He conferred on him the rights of royalty and established his throne in Israel.
Responsorial Psalm PS 18:31, 47 and 50, 51
R. (see 47b) Blessed be God my salvation!
God's way is unerring, the promise of the LORD is fire-tried; he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock! Extolled be God my savior. Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations, and I will sing praise to your name.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
You who gave great victories to your king and showed kindness to your anointed, to David and his posterity forever.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
Alleluia See Lk 8:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart, and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 6:14-29
King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." Others were saying, "He is Elijah"; still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets." But when Herod learned of it, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up."
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" Her mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ 'Remember those who are in prison as though you were in prison with them', says the letter to the Hebrews. The Gospel tells the sordid story of the final hours of John the Baptist, beheaded for a frivolous promise of Herod.
▪ Lord Jesus, you spent your last night before your crucifixion in prison. Bring comfort to the thousands of good people who are languishing behind bars. They are my sisters and brothers. There but for the grace of God I would be too.
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
God's way is unerring . . . He is a shield to all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:31)
Television shows and movies all have theme songs—music that establishes the mood and helps the viewer enter the show's world more fully. Today's responsorial psalm works in much the same way.
The first reading provides a review of King David's life, and the psalm gives the theme song. It captures the best of David by reflecting his attitude toward God. Even in the midst of weaknesses and offenses, David's life was marked by repentance and changed behavior—again and again. Each time, David picked up the pieces and moved forward because he knew that God, his rock, would never abandon him. He trusted God to continue to save him, and that's exactly what happened.
Today's psalm gives us ample reason to praise God as well. His way is always right. It was right when he chose David to be king of Israel, even though David was very young, and even though he later committed adultery and engineered an innocent man's death. Human fears, weaknesses, sins, and failings don't change God's ways. John the Baptist's followers might have struggled to embrace that truth when Herod had him beheaded. Jesus' disciples certainly did after the crucifixion. Yet in the end, they learned that God is completely trustworthy.
Though the devil, the world, and our fallen nature put up a fight at times, God remains our rock. He will always offer us a secure, stable place to stand. He has redeemed you, and he works every day to deliver you from the consequences of sin.
God's promises are sure. They are reliable beyond any doubt. David knew this and depended on it with all his heart.
So today, make it a point to echo David's praises. Praise God for his ways and his promises. Praise him for what he did in David's life. And most important, praise him for what he is doing in your life. Let David's theme song resound in your heart and mind. Sing it out—"The Lord live! And blessed be my Rock!" (Psalm 18:47).
"Father, you are the God of my salvation, and I praise you. I exalt you today and always!"
In today's first Holy Scripture we read about King David, "As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people's disgrace", and this is a foreshadowing of Christ. They say the greatest part of evil is pride. Today we read with a stone, David "crushed the pride of Goliath." Our Lord was the stone our Father used to crush the evil of pride on earth. No longer would it be a threat to a poor spirit, a humble spirit. You too can crush this evil out of your life. Pride causes more disaster than it does good. Because of pride, humans die. Because of pride, spirits die. And because of pride, souls are dying. Pride, not money, is the root of all evil. Money is simply a tool pride uses. They say that King David was sorry for his sins. They say King David still worshiped the Lord after repenting of his sins. Even before daybreak, the songs could be heard singing praise to God. "Blessed be God my salvation! The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!" For some strange reason I woke up singing "Song of the body of Christ". In it it goes " We come to share our story. We come to break the bread. We come to know our rising from the dead. ...You will lead and we shall follow. you will be the breath of life; living water, we are thirsting for your light." The Lord leads the way to crush the Goliath in your life. He shows the way. He shows how we can be broken and shared. He shows how to die and how to rise. In the Holy Gospel, we have the last moments of St. John the Baptist's life in our hands, and so did King Herod and Herodias, and their daughter. It's what we do with it that matters. How are you treating this faith? Herod was perplexed at this faith of St. John. He even thought of him as a "righteous and holy man". Yet, all that did not matter when it came down to pride. For he was a staunch man of his word, and his loves, his position and his wife and kids. He chose them and what they demanded over what the Lord was asking for...His heart. Pride will put you in such position all the time. Like the story of a man that tied up his little' boy's hands with a wire to punish him for having scratched his name on the dad's brand new truck. The hands were tied so tight that they had to take him to the hospital, and apparently lost a hand. The dad was so hurt at what he'd done to his son, that he was never the same again. I hope one day we can see how awful the effects of our sin really are. They affect so many people, mostly because they affect you. Pride blinds, completely the opposite of love. Herodias, the wife of King Herod, she despised St. John the baptist because he was calling them out on their sin, an unlawful marriage. Today, if I tell an unmarried couple they are living in sin, what will be the effect? One, I may get rejected, or they may feel rejected. It's what we do with it that matters. On the one hand, I have a couple of people dying before the Lord's eyes and I am silent, and on the other hand, I tell them and what happens? You leave that to the Lord, but first pray for them like there is no tomorrow. If you really pray, things will really happen. I remember an occasion I was praying for a couple, a young guy in ministries in the church. He was not married by the church, and he was leading a ministry. I prayed much. Nothing would happen. I kept praying until I got closer to him. I said something indirect to him, he didn't like it, I was talking about unlawful marriage of homosexuals. He called me about it and complained. I said "you know what? You need to get married by the church too buddy!" and things got heated as if to say I had no right to tell people anything. But I do. I have the authority of the ROCK. I am supposed to speak truth if approached and even when the Holy Spirit leads to speak. Maybe my head will be cut off for it, or...think about this...they will be saved. Nobody ever said King Herod or Herodias never converted. Nobody ever said these sinners and killers ever repented right? Now it's your turn. Repent. If you repent, you can drop what is on your hands and pick up a stone. IT's what you do with it that matters. Either bash God's children and His Law of Love, or fling the stone to Goliath, pride, the devil. I am your voice of consciousness. I am the Truth. I am going to forever be the victor. I am victory and salvation. I am, says the Lord, I AM the WAY. I AM the Truth. And listen to this: I AM THE LIFE. This life has no hold on my LIFE with God. I have the power of choice and the choice is Life. With this power, I can surrender my horrid way of life and choose His Life. Then, I can truly sing as the Song of the Body of Christ "Bread of life and cup of promise, In this meal we all are one. In our dying and our rising, may your kingdom come."