Commentary on the Gospel of
Memorial of Saint Agatha
Would Jesus be amazed at our lack of faith?
Today’s readings shake us to the core as we ponder that all important question.
As we reflect on the very depth of our individual faith, we would be wise to first consider Saint Agatha’s story. I would encourage you to take the time to look into the life of this amazing woman. Hers is a life of unwavering faith, a faith that empowered her to cling to her Savior through unbearable persecution and torture. Her life certainly shames me when I consider all the whining and complaining I have done when faced with the little hardships throughout my life. Saint Agatha forces me to evaluate the level of my faith, to consider how well I am answering God’s call.
Our first reading in 2nd Samuel provides an earth shaking story of what can happen when we turn to our wisdom in lieu of relying on an unwavering faith in our Savior. King David certainly seemed to possess an unshakable faith. God had delivered him through impossible trials throughout his life. After all, he was a “man after God’s own heart”. Yet in this episode, David forgot that it was God who had always been with him, providing direction. Instead, David turned to his own calculations in determining his next steps. While his “fighting man” census on the surface does not appear to be a faith test, it certainly turned out to be. How could David forget God’s hand with him when facing Goliath, or as a shepherd facing the bear and lion, or all his improbable successes in battle? Yet it finally did dawn upon him that all he needed to do was to continue trusting in God and that his successes had always been and always would be a gift from God. But then came the shock (at least in my mind), even though David repented - there was still a heavy price to pay for his choices. His mistake resulted in severe consequences for many others, a fact that I often overlook in my life.
Our Responsorial Psalm focuses us on the need to repent. Perhaps David’s story points to the reality that repenting is a critical part of having a heart for God. In the Alleluia verse, we are reminded that we need to listen to God’s voice because He knows and loves us. We simply need to remain focused upon God – listening and following.
Why then was it so hard for David to keep his focus, his trust, his faith in God? In our Gospel story in Mark, we are reminded again how difficult it can be to keep one’s focus on Jesus. Those living in Nazareth were certainly aware of all the “mighty deeds” Jesus had accomplished throughout Israel. They were “astonished” at his wisdom and understanding of scriptures. Yet they were unable to truly grasp that Jesus was the Son of God. How could this be? How could they not see the obvious standing right before their eyes? Jesus “was amazed at their lack of faith.”
So what is it that God is trying to teach us through today’s readings? Could it be to warn us of how easy it is to let our focus slip away from all the obvious things that God is doing in each of our lives? Could it be a call for each of us to truly examine our hearts to determine the level of our faith, the level of our commitment a nd reliance upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ?
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me when I let my focus slip away from you, when I turn to my understanding in lieu of seeking your will. Open my heart to honest reflection and help me to develop the kind of faith that turns first to you and your will for my life. Thank you for your loving patience in my faith journey. In the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.