for January 21, 2022

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Below are today's Mass readings and Saint of the Day:

Today's Readings:

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

  • Readings for the Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

Reading I 1 Sm 24:3-21

Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel 
and went in search of David and his men 
in the direction of the wild goat crags.
When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave, 
which he entered to relieve himself.
David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave.

David’s servants said to him, 
“This is the day of which the LORD said to you, 
‘I will deliver your enemy into your grasp; 
do with him as you see fit.’”
So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s mantle.
Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off 
an end of Saul’s mantle.
He said to his men,
“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, 
the LORD’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him, 
for he is the LORD’s anointed.”
With these words David restrained his men 
and would not permit them to attack Saul.
Saul then left the cave and went on his way.
David also stepped out of the cave, calling to Saul, 
“My lord the king!”
When Saul looked back, David bowed to the ground in homage and asked Saul:
“Why do you listen to those who say, 
‘David is trying to harm you’?
You see for yourself today that the Lord just now delivered you 
into my grasp in the cave.
I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead.
I decided, ‘I will not raise a hand against my lord, 
for he is the LORD’s anointed and a father to me.’
Look here at this end of your mantle which I hold.
Since I cut off an end of your mantle and did not kill you, 
see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion.
I have done you no wrong, 
though you are hunting me down to take my life.
The LORD will judge between me and you, 
and the LORD will exact justice from you in my case.
I shall not touch you.
The old proverb says, ‘From the wicked comes forth wickedness.’
So I will take no action against you.
Against whom are you on campaign, O king of Israel?
Whom are you pursuing?  A dead dog, or a single flea!
The LORD will be the judge; he will decide between me and you.
May he see this, and take my part,
and grant me justice beyond your reach!”
When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered, 
“Is that your voice, my son David?”
And Saul wept aloud.
Saul then said to David: “You are in the right rather than I; 
you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm.
Great is the generosity you showed me today, 
when the LORD delivered me into your grasp
and you did not kill me.
For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed?
May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day.
And now, I know that you shall surely be king 
and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession.”

Responsorial Psalm 57:2, 3-4, 6 and 11

R.        (2a)  Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me,
            for in you I take refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge,
            till harm pass by.
R.        Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
I call to God the Most High,
            to God, my benefactor.
May he send from heaven and save me;
            may he make those a reproach who trample upon me;
            may God send his mercy and his faithfulness.
R.        Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
            above all the earth be your glory!
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
            and your faithfulness to the skies.
R.        Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.

Alleluia 2 Cor 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted 
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach 
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter; 
James, son of Zebedee, 
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, 
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; 
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Saint of the Day:

St. Agnes

St. Agnes

Feast date: Jan 21

On Jan. 21, the Roman Catholic Church honors the virgin and martyr St. Agnes, who suffered death for her consecration to Christ.

Although the details of Agnes' life are mostly unknown, the story of her martyrdom has been passed on with reverence since the fourth century. On the feast day of the young martyr – whose name means “lamb” in Latin – the Pope traditionally blesses lambs, whose wool will be used to make the white pallium worn by archbishops.

Born into a wealthy family during the last decade of the third century, Agnes lived in Rome during the last major persecution of the early Church under the Emperor Diocletian. Though he was lenient toward believers for much of his rule, Diocletian changed course in 302, resolving to wipe out the Church in the empire.

Agnes came of age as the Church was beginning to suffer under a set of new laws decreed by Diocletian, and his co-ruler Galerius, in 303. The emperor and his subordinate called for churches to be destroyed and their books burned. Subsequent orders led to the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons, for the sake of compelling them to worship the emperor instead of Christ.

Meanwhile, Agnes had become a young woman of great beauty and charm, drawing the attention of suitors from the first ranks of the Roman aristocracy. But in keeping with the words of Christ and Saint Paul, she had already decided on a life of celibacy for the sake of God's kingdom. To all interested men, she explained that she had already promised herself to a heavenly and unseen spouse.

These suitors both understood Agnes' meaning, and resented her resolution. Some of the men, possibly looking to change her mind, reported her to the state as a believer in Christ. Agnes was brought before a judge who tried first to persuade her, and then to threaten her, into renouncing her choice not to marry for the Lord's sake.

When the judge showed her the various punishments he could inflict – including fire, iron hooks, or the rack that destroyed the limbs by stretching – Agnes smiled and indicated she would suffer them willingly. But she was brought before a pagan altar instead, and asked to make an act of worship in accordance with the Roman state religion.

When Agnes refused, the judge ordered that she should be sent to a house of prostitution, where the virginity she had offered to God would be violated. Agnes predicted that God would not allow this to occur, and her statement proved true. Legends say that the first man to approach her in the brothel was struck blind by a sudden flash of light, and others opted not to repeat his mistake.

But one of the men who had at first sought to make Agnes his own, now lobbied the judge for her execution. In this respect, the suitor obtained his desire, when the public official sentenced her to die by beheading. The executioner gave her one last chance to spare her life, by renouncing her consecration to Christ – but Agnes refused, made a short prayer, and courageously submitted to death.

St. Agnes, who died in 304, was venerated as a holy martyr from the fourth century onward. She is mentioned in the Latin Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.