The Courage that Flows from Faith, Fourth Friday (II), February 5, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
February 5, 2016
Sir 47:2-11, Ps 18, Mk 6:14-29


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today’s readings and feast focus on courage and its supernatural source.
  • In the first reading, we see David and recount how he audaciously defeated lions, bears and Goliath of Gad, how God had given strength to his right arm, how he subdued the enemy on every side. In the Gospel, we encounter John the Baptist’s courage in telling Herod and Herodias an uncomfortable truth, that there pseudo-marriage was offensive in God’s eyes, since it is not right to marry another’s wife, a fortiori one’s sister-in-law. In St. Agatha whom the Church celebrates today, we see one who, at the age of 20 in 251 in Sicily, boldly stood up against the governor Quintian and all his threats, against his sentencing her to a house of ill-repute, about his having her stripped naked and rolled on broken glass. In each of them we see examples of great courage.
  • Where does that courage come from? It comes from God and they receive it and act according to it through pious faith. We see David’s faith illuminated by the summary of Sirach. “With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise. With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung; He set singers before the altar and by their voices he made sweet melodies. He added beauty to the feasts and solemnized the seasons of each year So that when the Holy Name was praised, before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.” Because of his pious faithful love for God, David had the courage to dance before the ark despite the taunts of his wife and potentially others. Because of that pious faithful love, he had the courage to play the harp before God. Because of it, he had the great courage to repent of his sins and write about it so that we can pray it to this day. He sought not only to battle but to live in the name of the Lord, and when he fell from it and was confronted, he admitted and had the courage to change. Likewise, John the Baptist’s courage came from his faith, the faith that had made straight the paths for the Messiah, the faith that knew himself unworthy to unloosen his sandal strap, the faith that sought for Jesus to increase and for him to decrease. Agatha’s courage likewise came from her love for the Lord. St. Ambrose once said about the virgin martyrs that virginity is praiseworthy not because it is found in them but because it makes them. Their fidelity of love in the little things, offering their lives, their hearts, their bodies, their souls to him, forms them in the virtue that allows them to be able to continue to choose God in the supreme test. When that test came for Agatha, when Quintian was threatening her with all types of torture and death, she replied, “Jesus Christ, Lord all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.” Her courage came from her faithful love.
  • The greatest courage of all we see in David’s 28th generation descendent. He didn’t defeat soldiers by the tens of thousands or wrestle with bears, lions and giants. He was so courageous, so strong, that when he was being buffeted, he turned the other cheek, prayed for his persecutors, did good to those who hated him, and loved even his enemies, begging his Father to forgive them as they hammered him to the Cross. That same courageous Jesus implants himself in us every Mass, so that we can hear him from the inside saying to us, “Do not be afraid! It is I!” We come here to receive the Lord, our strength, and gradually as we consume him, become more and more like him whom we eat. Let us ask him as we enter anew in holy Communion with him to give us the courage that comes from him so that we might imitate David, John the Baptist and Agatha in their faithful love of him and bold witness!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 SIR 47:2-11

Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings,
so was David in Israel.
He made sport of lions as though they were kids,
and of bears, like lambs of the flock.
As a youth he slew the giant
and wiped out the people’s disgrace,
When his hand let fly the slingstone
that crushed the pride of Goliath.
Since he called upon the Most High God,
who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior
and raise up the might of his people,
Therefore the women sang his praises,
and ascribed to him tens of thousands
and praised him when they blessed the Lord.
When he assumed the royal crown, he battled
and subdued the enemy on every side.
He destroyed the hostile Philistines
and shattered their power till our own day.
With his every deed he offered thanks
to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole being he loved his Maker
and daily had his praises sung;
He set singers before the altar and by their voices
he made sweet melodies,
He added beauty to the feasts
and solemnized the seasons of each year
So that when the Holy Name was praised,
before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.
The LORD forgave him his sins
and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty
and established his throne in Israel.

Responsorial Psalm PS 18:31, 47 AND 50, 51

R. (see 47b) Blessed be God my salvation!
God’s way is unerring,
the promise of the LORD is fire-tried;
he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations,
and I will sing praise to your name.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!

Alleluia SEE LK 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart,
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.