Peoples’ desires, wishes and dreams in life are different to what they were pre-Covid. What seemed important then, may not be now quite as important. People recognise the value and gift of health, so precious and fragile. The images of medical staff attending the sick in hospital ICUs, testing and administering the vaccine, exhausted frontline workers, people wrangling and complaining on chat shows; all paint a sombre picture.
Meanwhile, people strive to draw new life and hope from signs of spring as snowdrops, varieties of crocus; daffodils and more flowers push their way through the ground. Hope is present as light in darkness. Jesus promised to be with us always until the end of time. Now people realise is the time ‘to be content with whatever we have’, as proclaimed in the Word at Mass.
The first reading proclaimed from Hebrews (Hebrews 13:1-8) instructs God’s people to love. God teaches the people to continue to love one another and to welcome strangers, to remember those who are in prison and those who are badly treated. The Word reminds the faithful of the importance of honouring Marriage. God cautions people against greed and invites people to be ‘content with whatever we have.’ Lastly, God invites us ‘to remember your leaders who preached the word of God to you.’ In remembering, we ‘reflect on the outcome of their lives’ and ‘imitate their faith.’ We thank God.
The psalm (Psalm 26) proclaimed reinforces the instruction in the Word. Disciples believe that ‘The Lord is my light and my help’ repeated six times. Can we believe the psalmist who says, ‘The Lord is the stronghold of my life’; ‘He hides me in the shelter of his tent, on a rock he sets me safe?’ The Lord always enlightens and helps his disciples.
The Gospel (Mark 6:14-22) proclaimed reveals how a person who is jealous and fearful acts irrationally and seeks revenge. This resulted in John the Baptist’s death and St Agatha’s in later years.
The Church celebrates the memorial of St Agatha today. She was born in Catania, Sicily in the third century. She was young, beautiful, rich and lived a life consecrated to God. The governor of Sicily, Quintian noticed her beauty and kindness. Agatha rejected his illicit advances and he sent her to prison for being a Christian and eventually her martyrdom at Catania for her loyalty to and love of Christ. In prison, they subjected Agatha to much cruelty and torture.
St Methodius from whom the Church reads in the Office of Readings described St Agatha ‘as a good woman, coming forth from God in whose goodness she shares.’ He continues, ‘“Good” is the force and meaning of her name, Agatha in Greek, for she has been granted us, given as a gift, by God himself, the very fount of goodness.’”
The Church honours St Agatha for her courage in suffering and her love for Christ. God’s people hear St Agatha’s name mentioned in the first Eucharistic prayer of the Mass.
‘St Agatha is patron of diseases of the breast; of nurses; against fire and earthquakes; and of her home town of Catania, Italy.’
At this time of pandemic, let us pray for courage to do what is right. Help us never to act out of jealousy or seek revenge.
Jesus’ teachings on love are reflected throughout the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé programme at all levels in the Catholic Primary School. Resources including the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Children’s e-book for each class standard are freely available on the VERITAS Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé website. To access the website:
Read: Sicily, where St Agatha was born is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian peninsula. Officially referred to as Regione Siciliana, it has 5 million inhabitants. Its capital city is Palermo. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.
Activity: Sicily is a popular holiday resort. Find out why this might be.
Activity: Find out some facts about St Agatha. Check out St Agatha’s Church in North William Street, Dublin 1. There you will see a statue and a stained glass window and shrine dedicated to St Agatha.
Pray: St Agatha, pray for us.
Sr Anne Neylon