Come, ring out our joy to the Lord; hail the God who saves us, alleluia.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.
|In other years: St Agnes (- 304)|
As with so many of the early Roman martyrs, very little is now known about Agnes’ life. Partly this is because the details have been obscured by the light that shines from her martyrdom and the cult that it inspired, and partly because if you are martyred at the age of 12, your life has not really acquired that many details in any case. Agnes was filled with the love of God from an early age, vowed herself to celibacy, and when the opportunity of martyrdom arose, she did not hide away but stepped forward and took it.
That is really all that is known: but it is enough. We who are used to compromising with the world at every turn, and would find excuses to avoid any inconveniences that our faith might cause us, let alone martyrdom (“yes, of course I would die for my faith in principle
, but wouldn’t I be able to do more good in the long run if I stayed alive just now?”), should admire the simple wisdom of Agnes, realise that there are moments where compromise and moral ambiguity just will not do, and pray for the strength to live up to such moments when they happen. See the article in Wikipedia
|Other saints: Feast of the Santo Niño|
The devotion to the Santo Niño (Holy Child) is the oldest and one of the most popular in the Philippines. When Legazpi landed on the island of Cebu in 1565, one of his soldiers found an image of the Child Jesus. It is believed to be the same statue Magellan had given to the wife of the chieftain of the island after her baptism. The image is venerated today in the Basilica of Cebu. For Filipino Catholics the Holy Child represents a God who is accessible to all and can be approached without fear. The devotion instils the virtues of simplicity, obedience, and trust in God. At the same time it calls for mature discipleship and loving service to all.
|Today's Office of Readings: The comedy of Jonah|
The lectionarist is a sober and dedicated person and, hard though his job is, he does not usually complain. He gets near to it, though, in §146 of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours, when he alludes to being able to put into the Office of Readings “the long and difficult passages which scarcely have a place in the Mass”. You can hear him gratefully stretching his wings after spending too long in a confined space.
The business of trimming pieces of Scripture to be small enough to fit, and easy enough to understand at a single hearing, is regrettable but inevitable. There is a particularly poignant example today. The very human comedy of Jonah is shorn of all its humanity and all its comedy. The First Reading presents Jonah as he ought to have been, as we ought to be. This is uplifting; but it is also exactly the opposite of what really happens in the Book of Jonah, which shows us Jonah as he really was – as we usually are too.
Here is a quick summary to make up for what you are missing:
Act One: God calls Jonah to get up at once and go to Nineveh and preach to its inhabitants. Jonah gets up at once, and goes as fast as he can in the opposite direction. God commits some entertaining miracles (not without their resonance in later salvation history) and puts Jonah back where he started.
Act Two: God calls Jonah to get up and go to Nineveh and its inhabitants and tell them that if they do not repent in sackcloth and ashes then they will all be destroyed. He does, and they do, so they aren’t. This story is high-minded enough to find its way into today’s Mass.
Act Three: Jonah is furious. Where is the pleasure in being a prophet of doom and destruction if the doom and destruction you prophesy doesn’t happen? He complains to God, and God commits a rather arbitrary miracle with a castor-oil plant to show him how wrong he is.
Of all the Old Testament prophets, Jonah is the one who is most like us. God shows a sense of humour in dealing with him; may he show it also in his dealings with us.
The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the season in which we are being neither especially penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Romans 8:15-16 ©|
The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Romans 8:22-23 ©|
From the beginning until now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Timothy 1:9 ©|
God has saved us and called us to be holy, not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time.