Homily for Jan. 21, Friday of the II week in OT, Memorial of St Agnes, virgin and martyr
Over the past several days, more than once the readings at Mass have had a certain focus on the newness of the Gospel message with respect to the Old Testament. Jesus spoke about putting “new wine in new wineskins”; the readings from the letter to the Hebrews have described Jesus as our new High Priest, and the Lord takes a renewed approach to interpreting and applying the law.
Today continues that theme. The first reading talks about the new and “better covenant”. It shows that the New Covenant in Christ is one of forgiveness, written on our hearts. In the Gospel, the Lord chooses his Twelve Apostles, the number of the twelve tribes of Israel, to be sent eventually beyond the twelve tribes to all people, to preach, to heal, and to cast out the devil and his minions.
The wonderful power of God’s grace in the New Covenant of Christianity is shown by the saint we celebrate today – St Agnes. She was a martyr in Rome before the end of the persecution of Christians by the empire, and was just 13 years old when she gave her life for her faith.
Throughout the history of the Church, God has chosen people from every part of the world and every sector of society to be His instruments. Young and old, poor and rich, fishermen and kings, the ignorant and the learned – all have a place in God’s plan and can become great saints when made into new creations through Baptism. Let us ask God today to fill us with His Spirit so that our love, service and dedication to Him can be always as fresh as new, and we too may become His instruments to bring His salvation to all people.