Daily Reflection
January 21st, 2004
Deb Fortina
Academic Affairs
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Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr
1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51
Psalm 144:1b, 2, 9-10
Mark 3:1-6

1Samuel 17:32-33,37,40-51  “…David continued; “The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.”  Saul answered David, “Go! The LORD will be with you….”

Psalm 144: 1b,2,9-10   “O God, I will sing a new song to you;…You who give victory to kings, and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.”

Mark 3:1-6   “…Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out and his hand was restored....

Memorial of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr: not too much is known about this young woman who lived in the last half of the 3rd century.  She was committed to a house of prostitution after she refused the attention of a man who then reported her to the authorities as being a Christian.  She was later condemned to death and buried in the catacombs near Rome.  She was a woman who gave courage and hope to the people of her day; like the more modern day St. Maria Goretti, or like St. Agatha did for the people of their day.  (From Saints of the Day website) 

Today’s reading in 1 Samuel presents the colorful story of David slaying the giant Philistine, Goliath, using only a sling shot and a stone.  Up to this point, David is a shepherd, not a soldier, and he is coming to the battlefield to deliver food items to his two older brothers.  But, what he finds when he gets there is that a Philistine has dishonored the People of God, issuing a challenge. If any Israelite can kill the six and a half foot Philistine, called Goliath, all of the Israelites will be freed.  There is no one among the Israelite army to take on this challenge for Goliath is much bigger than any of them, as well as being a well trained soldier.   But, when David learns of the situation he immediately volunteers to take on the challenge, saying the LORD has “delivered me (him) from the claws of the lion and the bear” and that the LORD will keep him safe.   The story is well known, how David becomes the victor with impossible odds, with no size or training in combat, he becomes victorious because he trusts the LORD.  Rather than focus on the battle, I found myself looking at the situations in my life, the challenges faced and left to face, many feeling unconquerable at times.  The story is really quite delightful in its telling and it serves to give a person hope about those impossible tasks we find ourselves facing, no matter how big the challenge.  May we be inspired by David’s confidence in our LORD, to ask God to help us face those difficult situations, difficult people, difficult decisions, with insurmountable odds weighing against a favorable outcome; to help us look with confidence towards a favorable outcome.

In our Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.  We hear how saddened Jesus is when he asks the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”  The reading says they remained silent.  This is one of the many times in the Gospel readings, that Jesus responds to an individuals needs of curing the sick or the maimed, while the Pharisees look on in disgust.  Their interpretation of their law is different than Jesus’ interpretation of that law protecting the sacredness of the day called the Sabbath.  Jesus was “teacher” to many; notice the reactions again, while the Pharisees looked on in disgust, Jesus looked at them in disappointment.

Picture yourself a bystander in either story.  With the David and Goliath’s story we watch a very colorful event, and the hero, David demonstrates his confidence and trust of the Lord.  In the story from Mark, we watch a more quiet scene where our Lord, our teacher heals a man’s hand that is withered and not functioning.  We learn that God does not consider doing good as a taboo act on the Sabbath.  What is the Lord calling you to do today?  If you stand and watch the Teacher give life and function to a weak limb, (take care of your neighbor in this country or another) or if you watch the gallantry of David who because of his trust in God takes on the impossible with fervor (stand up for the rights of the unborn, or any under represented group), what are you being called to do today?   Even our saint for today, St. Agnes, leads us to bravery and to trusting in the Lord.  May God look favorably upon our work…St. Agnes pray for us.


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