Monday, February 05, 2018

If Only

Saint Agatha, virgin & martyr

Mark 6:53-56

In my teen years I was filled with this phrase - if only. If only I had a car I could go and do what I wanted. If only I didn't have to go to school I'd be much happier. If only (insert desire) then (insert poorly perceived result).

Today's Gospel made me put these "if only" moments in perspective. In my "if only" moments I am usually acting in a faithless, selfish manner. Either I am trying make a deal with God or I am exhibiting a lack of faith that would make those in Nazareth take notice (cf. 6:1-6). Here, however, I find people swarming to meet Jesus. He is unable to find rest because of these people. And yet they are not making deals with Him. They are not promising to change their ways if only He will improve their lives. Rather, these faith-filled people are coming to find Jesus hoping that they "might touch only the tassel of His cloak."

This hunger, this desire for Christ is so strong and their faith in Him is so strong that all they are asking is that they might touch a part of his clothing. This sort of faith is exhibited throughout the scriptures. In Matthew's Gospel the Centurion has so much faith in the power of Jesus that he asks him to "only say the word and my servant will be healed" (Matthew 8:8). Later in the same Gospel we hear of the woman who was suffering for years with hemorrhages who said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured" (Matthew 9:21). In the Acts of the Apostles we see that this power is passed on to the Church when crowds look for Saint Peter, "hoping only that his shadow might fall on one or another of them" (Acts 5:15).

Looking back on my life I feel as though I have been setting the conditions with God by my if only attitude. Yet today I see that He clearly says to me, "if only you had more faith..."

Lord Jesus, give me a simple faith. Give me a faith that is content with a touch of your garments or to have your shadow fall upon me. It is truly more than I deserve!

FROM THE SAINTS - "My fellow Christians, our annual celebration of a martyr's feast has brought us together. Agatha achieved renown in the early Church for her noble victory. For her, Christ's death was recent, his blood was still moist. Her robe is the mark of her faithful witness to Christ. Agatha, the name of our saint, means "good." She was truly good, for she lived as a child of God. Agatha, her goodness coincides with her name and her way of life. She won a good name by her noble deeds, and by her name she points to the nobility of those deeds. Agatha, her mere name wins all men over to her company. She teaches them by her example to hasten with her to the true Good, God alone."
from a homily on Saint Agatha by Saint Methodius of Sicily

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