21Jan 21 January, 2017. Saturday, Week 2

Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

1st Reading: Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14

Jesus enters the Holy of Holies, to enable us to serve the living God

For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot speak now in detail.

Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties; but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper, but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right.

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Gospel: Mark 3:20-21

Jesus is mobbed; and his relatives fear he is out of his mind

Then Jesus went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.

When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”


Giving his all for us

The heart of Jesus was dedicated to his ministry, as an all-consuming passion. Sometimes he hardly found the time to eat. His dealing with the crowds turned out to be so incessant that some of his relatives, when they heard of this, thought him out of his mind.

We read in Hebrews that we are united with God through the blood of Jesus. The symbolism of blood refers to life rather than death–yet it was by the death of Jesus that the veil of the temple was split and Jesus entered into the Father’s presence. His death on the cross became the supreme sign of Jesus’ loving dedication to us, to bring us to the Father.

Jesus is so caught up in the needs of others that, according to Mark, his own family planned to take charge of him, thinking him out of his mind. Up to that time at least, they did not empathise with Jesus’ aims. But all who are nourished by his life-giving blood are called into sharing his ministry. Like him we let ourselves to be absorbed by concern for others, our brothers and sisters, in their search for love, understanding, healing and new life.

Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

Agnes (291-304) was born noble parents in Rome and raised in a Christian family. She suffered martyrdom in her thirteenth year, in defence of her virginity, January 304, in the reign of Emperor Diocletian.

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