The holy martyr Agatha, the glorious virgin and martyr for Christ, was born in the Sicilian town of Palermo to noble and wealthy parents. When the emperor Decius began the persecution of Christians, St. Agatha was arrested and brought to trial before the judge Quintian. The judge, seeing Agatha beautiful in countenance, desired to have her for his wife. When he suggested this, Agatha answered that she was the bride of Christ and would not be unfaithful to her Betrothed. Quintian subjected her to cruel tortures. Agatha was mocked, whipped, bound to a tree and flogged until blood flowed. After that, the judge again tried to persuade her to deny Christ and avoid any further torture and suffering. St. Peter appeared to Agatha in prison and restored her to health and wholeness of body. Again Agatha was led out for torture, and again she was cast into prison, where she gave up her soul to God in the year 251 in the town of Catania, during the reign of Emperor Decius.
Your lamb Agatha, O Jesus, cries out in a loud voice: I love you, my Bridegroom; I seek You with painful longing; I am crucified with You; in Your baptism, I am buried with You; I suffer for You that I may reign with You; and I die for You that I may live with You. Receive me as a spotless sacrifice immolated with love for You. By her prayers, O merciful One, save our souls.
May the Church be robed today in a mantle of precious purple made of the blood of the pure martyr Agatha. Let us all cry out to her: Rejoice, Agatha, O pride of Catania!
1st Corinthians 6: 12-20
Brothers and sisters: “Everything is lawful for me” but that does not mean that everything is good for me. “Everything is lawful for me” – but I will not let myself be enslaved by anything. “Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will do away with them both in the end” – but the body is not for immorality; it is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. God, who raised up the Lord, will raise us also by his power.
Do you not see that your bodies are members of Christ? Would you have me take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute? God forbid! Can you not see that the man who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? Scripture says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun lewd conduct. Every other sin a man commits is outside his body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within pp the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body.
Luke 15: 11-32
The Lord told this parable: “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that is coming to me.’ So the father divided up the property. Some days later this younger son collected all his belongings and went off to a distant land, where he squandered his money on dissolute living. After he had spent everything, a great famine broke out in that country and he was in dire need. So he attached himself to one of the propertied class of the place, who sent him to his farm to take care of the pigs. He longed to fill his belly with the husks that were fodder for the pigs, but no one made a move to give him anything. Coming to his senses at last, he said: ‘How many hired hands at my father’s place have more than enough to eat, while here I am starving! I will break away and return to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me like one of your hired hands.’
With that he set off for his father’s house. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved. He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ The father said to his servants: ‘Quick! Bring out the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Take the fatted calf and kill it. Let us eat and celebrate because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and is found.’ Then the celebration began.
“Meanwhile the elder son was out on the land. As he neared the house on his way home, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked him the reason for the dancing and the music. The servant answered; ‘You brother is home, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back in good health.’ The son grew angry at this and would not go in; but his father came out and began to plead with him.
“He said to his father in reply: ‘For years now I have slaved for you. I never disobeyed one of your orders, yet you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends. Then, when this son of yours returns after having gone through your property with loose women, you kill the fatted calf for him.’
“‘My son,’ replied the father, ‘you are with me always, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice! This brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life. He was lost, and is found.’”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Saturday, February 4 –