February 5, 2019
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
Lectionary: 329

Hebrews 12:1-4
Psalms 22:26B-27, 28 and 30, 31-32
Mark 5:21-43

Praying Ordinary Time

I see today’s readings as typifying how Jesus and the Christian Community build on the whole of Salvation History.

The beginning of today’s text from the Epistle to the Hebrews suggested that the readers were being watched. I found myself wondering by whom until I went back to the preceding chapter. There the author laid out the Old Testament history upon which Jesus would build. He outlined the faith and suffering that the Chosen People endured. It seems to me that the “heroes” of Salvation History were those who were watching. In today’s reading the author reminds us of Jesus’ suffering. The letter shows Jesus’ role in fulfilling what has come before. It also outlines the expectations on those who believe.

The Psalm recalls vows made and praise for God by His people.

I also see this Gospel as addressed to the Hebrews. In today’s reading Jesus’ ministry returns to the Jewish people healing a woman and raising a girl from the dead. (In the preceding passages Jesus has driven out demons from a man in a non-Jewish community.)

The early Christian community’s message spoke to both Jew and Gentile. How good am I at picking up on God’s message to me? I know how much I miss. I find it hard to pass judgement on those living 2000 years ago who did not embrace that which even the author of Hebrews recognizes as the unexpected and admittedly might be viewed as shameful.

Appropriately today is the feast of St. Agatha, a young woman who endured tremendous abuse for her faith in the spirit of today’s passage as well as the previous chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews. St. Agatha followed her vows as in today’s Psalm. I wonder if St. Agatha in her suffering recalled the earlier verses of the same Psalm, as Jesus did - My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief. The Psalmist will end this prayer of despair with trust in what is yet to come. I am put to shame knowing the weakness of my own spirit. I see the insignificant matters about which I become concerned. I reflect on how small things, like bad flight connections, seem when viewing the bigger picture. I sense that our spiritual forebearers would not be particularly proud looking at how I respond.

My prayer today involves listening for God.

Dear Lord,
Give me the patience and peace to hear Your message.
Allow me to focus on the big picture.
Free me from any obsession with inconsequential details.
Help me to be understanding and slow to judge.
Open my heart to the source of strength, Your Spirit.

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