Tuesday of 2nd Week of OT A--Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

Persecution for the Sake of the Kingdom of Heaven

Persecution or Christian persecution, and it is Christian persecution. Adult persecution or children persecution, and it is both. Today, the Church remembers Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr at a very young age of twelve. She was one of a very few female Saints mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I. At that young age, she was led to the altar of Minerva at Rome and commanded to obey the persecuting laws of Diocletian by offering incense. In the midst of idolatrous rites, she raised her hands to Christ, her spouse, and made the sign of the life-giving cross. No pain and no torture could hurt her. While the crowd turned away their eyes from the spouse of Christ, as she stood exposed to view in the street with no piece of clothes to cover. There was one young man who dared to gaze at the innocent child with immodest eyes. A flash of light struck him blind, and his companions bore him away half dead with pain and terror. For a moment she stood erect in prayer, and then bowed her neck to the sword. At one stroke, her head was severed from her body. She suffered Christian martyrdom because of her vow to her spouse Christ.

Why does persecution, especially Christian persecution, occur? There are seven reasons Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world by Laura McAlister, ignitumtoday.com. One of these seven reasons, “Christians are often at the forefront of promoting human rights and democracy as well as opposing violence, corruption, and exploitation of the poor. As such, they are often targeted by the powerful, whether governments or mob groups, who don’t hesitate to use violence or other forces of coercion to get what they want. For example, the Latin American drug lords who murder Catholic priests and other Christian leaders because they are the only ones defending the rights of the poor.”

Just as Jesus taught his disciples that the Kingdom of heaven is like a hidden treasure or a fine pearl with great price, reported under the pen of Matthew, that when a person find it, he will sell everything he has to buy that hidden treasure or the fine pearl, persecuted Christian is the one who has found the treasure and willed to risk his life to inherit that treasure. Have you and I, through our baptism, found the treasure of Christianity, the kingdom of heaven? Have we been able to detach what is so attached to us to go after that treasure of the kingdom of heaven through living with our good words and good deeds to one another? Stop criticizing and judging one another? Learn to actively engage into the life of the Church in action? May Saint Agnes intercede for us to have courage and strength to live our Christian call.

 

Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen


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