Memorial of Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr
(II Samuel 24:2.9-17; Mark 6:1-6)
It is said that in during the first few centuries the churches of Rome and Sicily bragged about their saints. The Romans would claim St. Agnes as the worthiest virgin-martyr. The Sicilians would counter that the distinction belongs to Agatha, today’s celebrated saint. The friendly rivalry indicates how faith penetrated the everyday life of the people. Today, in contrast, people brag about their city’s professional basketball team. Both readings that we just heard concern the lack of faith.
David’s census indicates his belief that numbers of soldiers and not trust in God are his priority. In the gospel the people refuse to believe in Jesus as God’s emissary despite his cures and his wisdom.
With science making life so comfortable we have a hard time trusting in God. We rationalize that God works through human ingenuity, but we forget to pray. God seems hard to fit in our everyday lives. But we abandon God to our peril. Faith in God provides a blueprint for stability in life. We will go far if we keep God’s commandments. It also assures us of bliss beyond the travail of death. Also important, faith promises fulfilment. We know that the world does not center around us. Still, by faith in God we are drawn into its true center where we find purpose, meaning, and peace.