THURSDAY 21 JANUARY
Memorial of St Agnes, Virgin, Martyr
Mark 3: 7-12
In the Gospel reading of today, Jesus was recording great success in his ministry. Many people who heard the wonderful miracles he was performing were coming from every nook and corner, from neighbouring towns and villages – from Galilee, Judaea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, Transjordania, and the region of Tyre and Sidon. The ministry was really booming and Jesus’ popularity was at its peak. In the midst of this, Jesus instructs his disciples, ‘to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, to keep him from being crushed’.
There is no doubt that Jesus loved the people so much. He will later give his life in order to save them from damnation. But he had to take a boat ride into the lake to avoid being crushed by the crowd. The crowd can crush us. This is not a call to flee from people, but one can be lost in the crowd, or be destroyed by crowd mentality. Allowing oneself to be so much engulfed in the crowd can make us lose our identity, and we can even lose our dignity as unique individuals.
One may ask, in this period of coronavirus lockdown, where is the crowd that can crush us? The social media can be the ‘crowd’ of our day which takes possession of our mind, soul and spirit, and it is capable of crushing us. Most people are addicted to their phones, televisions, iPads/tablets, video games, etc, that they don’t even have quality time with their loved ones, have time for themselves or concentrate in their allotted tasks. The social media can also feed our minds with strange ideas which can greatly influence our outlook on life.
It could be wise to take a boat ride into the lake, away from the crowd to rediscover yourself and find new strength to face life. Jesus did the same thing to avoid being crushed by the crowd. St Agnes whose memorial we celebrate today did not allow herself to be overcome by the ‘crowd’ and the voice of evil. She discovered Jesus early in her life and decided to live as a virgin and dedicate her whole life to God. She refused suitors, in those days when children were given away in marriage, preferring to be a spouse of the Lord. At the age of 12, she was commanded to go and offer incense to the Roman goddess Minerva, but she refused. She was arrested, handcuffed and eventually she paid the ultimate price by having her head cut off. She was resolute till the end. We remember her heroic faith in Jesus.
May St. Agnes, Pray for us.