Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

We sometimes think of a bleaker outlook on life as being more mature, a sign that one has grown up. In The Music Man, for instance, charlatan Harold Hill declared that “the sadder but wiser girl” was the one for him. Someone who has had a chance to live and be wounded, and so toughen up, is preferable to a more Pollyanna-ish innocence. The wounds create scars, and the scars make us hard and resilient against what is to come. But Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their hardness of heart. Wounds have been inflicted, either by others or the Pharisees themselves, that have made them so incapable of loving that they are filled with murderous hatred at seeing a man healed.

St. Agnes, whose feast we celebrate today, is a stark contrast. Even at the age of twelve, the tortures she endured before she was finally martyred would have been enough to scar even the most loving heart. Yet Agnes was loving until the end. Especially in an age as cynical as ours, it is difficult for us to have hearts as loving as St. Agnes’. But Deuteronomy says that “the Lord will circumcise your hearts.” The Lord, who makes all things new, may approach our hearts and cut away the scar tissue, so that our hearts have the same innocence as Agnes’. Let us pray for that renewal on her feast.

January 21st, 2015