Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

January 21, 2012

Damian Olsen

2nd Year Medical Student

2 Sm 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27
Ps 80:2-3, 5-7
Mk 3:20-21

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Agnes who was a virgin and martyr at the young age of thirteen. She was a wonderful and beautiful woman of God who was courted by many men. Her simple and pointed response to their advances was ‘Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.’ She set an amazing example of holiness at such a young age. I know myself that I often have this idea that holiness comes with years of experience in life and time to grow close to God. Saint Agnes reminds us that just one encounter with Jesus Christ is enough to set our hearts on fire to the point of complete rejection of earthly pursuits. She was given the opportunity to save herself by denying God, but she answered back ‘I would offend my Spouse if I were to try to please you.’ That statement strikes me so powerfully in today's day and age. How often do we compromise and go out of our way to better our earthly image in the eyes of others? We can be quick to turn our back to God in order to ‘save’ ourselves, but we are doing just the opposite. We are reminded in the Gospel of Matthew ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

I want to share a short story of an event that recently happened in my life to illuminate the amazing witness of Saint Agnes and how we are to follow her example. I am in my second year of medical school here at Creighton, and this year we begin to spend some time in the clinics more or less ‘shadowing’ a doctor. A few weeks back the topic of Catholicism and some of the church's beliefs came up in the office between myself, the doctor I am shadowing, and another student. They were both self-proclaimed Catholics; however the way they were speaking of the church’s teachings was not true. This was my opportunity to speak up and evangelize, maybe even to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, but I sat there in silence. I put my self image in the eyes of those present above the truth of the Gospel; I tried to be agreeable. Needless to say, leaving clinic that day I felt like a horrible failure. Saint Agnes and her words really spoke to me and this situation as I reflected on her life. I chose to offend Christ in order to please men and we know that is not the path we are called to follow. The Gospel and its teachings are very often counter-cultural, it seems more so with each passing day. Even in 304 AD when Saint Agnes was martyred, the teachings of Christ were considered ‘crazy’ and unlawful. However we are called not to shy away from the truth for we know that in these situations the Holy Spirit will guide our words and the truth will set us free.
As we reflect on the short yet unbelievably holy life of Saint Agnes today, let us pray for the courage and the faith to act as boldly as she did in standing up for the teachings of Christ. Our whole purpose and goal here on earth is to serve God and so merit heaven and eternal happiness for ourselves and as many others as we can. Living a life as a true Catholic is no easier today than in the day of Saint Agnes, we will be called out by many. While we may not be called to give our very lives up as Saint Agnes did, we will undoubtedly be called to daily ‘martyrdom’ of our worldly image in great and small ways. Today let us pray for the grace to not shy away from these opportunities, to grasp hold of each of these precious moments: to reach out to others and suffer for righteousness’ sake. By giving of ourselves in this way we nail our prideful existence to the Holy Cross of Christ and he will raise us up in the life to come.

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