The Church commemorates St. Agatha today. According to legend, St. Agatha lived and died in Sicily in the Third Century. Having pledged herself to God, she spurned the advances of a lesser public official, though he had enough power to see that she was sent to a brothel. When that did not result in her renunciation of God and embrace of him, he sent her to prison where she was subjected to a series of tortures, among them the removal of her breasts. St. Peter appeared, however, and healed her. It appears that this sequence of events has merited her being named a special intercessor for breast maladies, cancer and the like.
Because she was credited with quieting the eruption of Mount Etna, she is asked for protection against fire. She is one of a few saints named in the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass.
Agatha has many characteristics with which it is difficult for us to identify. For example: Different century; different country; different language; as a married person, a different commitment to God.
As I reflect on her story, I find myself asking: What is it I hold sacred enough to suffer and yes even die for? Family, friends, and beliefs, I hope. How do I choose to play out that valuing in my life? Or, ouch! Does it appear that I am more committed to some of the things I own? My “place” in the world? Someone’s opinion of me? My reputation?
The two readings for today bring forth two examples, John the Baptist’s of faith upheld, and David’s of betrayal with a later turning back to God.
Today’s invitation may be to a truthful pondering: What is our treasure? What’s so precious that I cannot imagine being without it? Where do our lives demonstrate our commitments? And if we don’t like the answer, what am I willing to do about it?
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