Memorial of Saint, Agnes, virgin and martyr
(Hebrews 7:25-8:6; Mark 3:7-12)
Christians are accustomed to thinking of Jesus as the “Son of God.” When we say this, we usually have in mind the concept of the Council of Nicea. In that epic event Jesus was identified as having both a divine and human nature. He was the Son because of his being eternally begotten by the Father. The evangelists, writing 250 before Nicea, were not thinking so philosophically. What did they mean when they called Jesus “the Son”?
In today’s gospel Jesus is said to rebuke evil spirits who call him “the Son of God.” It should be remembered that at his Baptism a voice from heaven calls him, “my beloved Son.” In the Gospel of Mark these words are directed to Jesus alone. The voice speaks again at Jesus’ transfiguration, but only the three specially chosen disciples hear it along with Jesus. Finally at the crucifixion the Roman centurion says openly, “’Truly this man was the Son of God!’” Only now, when Jesus has given his life, could people understand what being “Son of God” means. It is not a nametag for a privileged reception, but an identification of one who loves like God. As a human, this means the willingness to give up one’s whole life for the benefit of others.
We too are “son and daughters of God.” We have joined ourselves to Jesus who has brought us into his Father’s household. We have been made into those who love with whole heart and soul. Loving in this way, we become like St. Agnes, who gave up her life rather than betray God, her Father.