Saint Agnes, Martyr – Readings

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Psalm 22; Matt 13:44-46

The readings are clearly related to the situation of Agnes. The Gospel is taken from the 13th chapter of Matthew which contains a set of parables, all related to the Kingdom of God (although Matthew, out of a Jewish reverence for the name of God, calls it ‘Kingdom of Heaven’). Those belong to the Kingdom, or rather the Kingship or Reign, of God who have totally identified themselves with the will of God as set out for us by Jesus, the Son and the Word of God.

Today’s passage is one of two small parables which compare God’s Way as a precious treasure for which everything else is worth giving up in order to make it part of one’s life. There is a slight difference between the two parables. In the first parable, the treasure is found by accident but, once discovered, everything else becomes secondary. In the second parable, the existence of such a treasure is known but not its whereabouts. But, once discovered, everything is set aside in order to gain it.

The first of these parables in today’s Gospel clearly applies to Agnes who, having found Jesus and his Call, does not hesitate to sacrifice her life rather than be separated from it.

The First Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians are words of encouragement from Paul to the Christians of Corinth who, in the eyes of the world, were seen as being people of low social status. And, in fact, it is notable that the expansion of the early Church in a pagan and often hostile world was achieved by people of little social standing or influence.

But the words can be applied to the young girl whose feast we are celebrating today:

Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather…God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.

Again and again in the history of Christianity we have seen how the self-sacrificing victims of the rich and powerful are the ones we remember and celebrate while their executioners have been long forgotten. It is for us to reflect today on where real power and success lies. Not in wealth, status or fame, in what we can get, but in a readiness to be totally committed in freedom to truth and love, in what we can give and share.

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