|“When His family heard of this they came to take charge of Him, saying, ‘He is out of His mind.’ ” —Mark 3:21|
Jesus’ relatives thought He was out of His mind. We Christians have been baptized into Jesus (Rm 6:3). We share in His divine nature (2 Pt 1:4). We are called and graced to be holy as He is holy (see 1 Pt 1:15-16), pure as He is pure (1 Jn 3:3), and perfected as He and His Father are perfect (Mt 5:48). We are called to be Jesus’ disciples — to imitate Him and be formed into His image (Rm 8:29). As we become more like Jesus, those who are like Jesus’ relatives will come to the conclusion that we too are out of our minds. We may even be worthy of being persecuted for the sake of Jesus’ name (see Acts 5:41). Of course, the ultimate compliment to a Christian is to be martyred — to be killed as Jesus was killed.
There is reason to believe that in today’s culture of death more people are like Jesus’ relatives than like Jesus. Therefore, those who are like Jesus can expect to be considered out of their minds and to be persecuted (2 Tm 3:12) and even martyred. Let us live accordingly.
|Prayer: Father, make me so like Jesus that I will be holy, persecuted, joyful, misunderstood, loving, and rejected.|
|Promise: “…how much more will the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself up unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God!” —Heb 9:14|
|Praise: St. Agnes is said to have been more joyful at her martyrdom than the most exultant brides have been at their weddings.|
|From a treatise On Virgins by
Saint Ambrose, bishop
[ c.340 – 397 A.D. ]
There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Though she could scarcely receive the blow, she could rise superior to it. Girls of her age cannot bear even their parents’ frowns and, pricked by a needle, weep as for a serious wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She stands undaunted by heavy, clanking chains. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. The cruelty that did not spare her youth shows all the more clearly the power of faith in finding one so young to bear it witness.
A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valour despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.
In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. The crowds marvel at her recklessness in throwing away her life untasted, as if she had already lived life to the full. All are amazed that one not yet of legal age can give her testimony to God. So she succeeds in convincing others of her testimony about God, though her testimony in human affairs could not yet be accepted. What is beyond the power of nature, they argue, must come from its creator.
What menaces there were from the executioner, to frighten her; what promises made, to win her over; what influential people desired her in marriage! She answered: “To hope that any other will please me does wrong to my Spouse. I will be his who first chose me for himself. Executioner, why do you delay? If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish.” She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.
You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned; his right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and to religion; Agnes preserved her virginity, and gained a martyr’s crown.
|Jesus “went up the mountain and summoned the men He Himself had decided on, who came and joined Him.” —Mark 3:13|
In the USA, in a few days will be the forty-fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion. This decision legalized millions of serial killings. It is a gigantic step backward into the culture of death. It is a capitulation to Hitler and the Third Reich. Hitler lost World War II militarily, but his diabolical ideas reign supreme today in our culture of death.
However, there is hope, because there is Jesus. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6), has already conquered death. We must commit ourselves to the “new covenant” of Jesus (see Heb 8:8; Jer 31:31ff). We must live our Baptisms as fully active members of the body of Christ, the Church. We are members of the Church that has been given the “authority to expel demons” and to “preach the good news” of Jesus (Mk 3:14-15). By obedience to the Lord — especially to His call to pray and fast (Mt 17:21) — we will drive out the demons of abortion and displace our culture of death with a civilization of love and life. There is hope in Jesus and only in Jesus.
|Prayer: Father, may I die to save lives and to lead others to You.|
|Promise: “Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.” —Ps 85:12|
|Praise: St. Sebastian had a ministry of encouraging martyrs to persevere to the end. He gave witness to his preaching by giving his own life for Jesus.|