Here is my homily from last night’s celebration of the feast of St. Agnes. God bless each of you!
Did you catch that one sentence in tonight’s Gospel that I tried to emphasize? “Then they remained silent.” We, who dare to call ourselves Christian, who say we follow Jesus Christ, must not remain silent. We are called to witness by our words and our lives to the Truth. We are called to give witness to our love for Jesus Christ.
We cannot avoid this calling even in the face of death.
Today, we remember St. Agnes, one of the first martyrs of the Church. She died around the year 257 during one of the persecutions of the Church by the emperor of Rome. She was only about 10 years old. A mere girl, who gave her life in witness to her love for Jesus and the truth of her faith. Can you imagine? A young girl faced with the reality of evil and faithlessness yet courageously and openly gave witness to her love for God and died in maintaining her faith. It would have been so much easier for her, especially at that tender age, to have gone along with her tormentors, to have remained silent and preserved her life. Wouldn’t have we? In all honesty, it would have been very difficult for any of us to have spoken if we were to have been in her place. Our fear would have overtaken us.
But not St. Agnes. She spoke. She did not remain silent.
This is a special day in Rome, for every year at this feast, the Holy Father receives and blesses several young white lambs. The wool from these lambs is then used to weave the fabric of the Pallia that are placed over the shoulders of each archbishop in the world. Agnes means “lamb” in Latin and the word is also derived from a Greek word meaning “pure.”
My friends, let us pray this night that we, like St. Agnes, may have the courage to speak the truth in the face of temptation and evil. Let us pray that we may meet our responsibilities as follower of Christ to give bold witness to him and his Gospel.