Feast of St Agnes of Rome

Hebrews 8:6-13; Psalm 84:8,10-14(LXX); Mark 3:13-19

This is the covenant that I will make after those days, says the Lord: 
I will put my laws into their minds, 
and write them on their hearts, 
and I will be their God, 
and they shall be my people.      (Heb 8.10)

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, 
  for he will speak peace to his people, 
  to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts. 
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; 
  righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, 
  and righteousness will look down from the sky. 
Yea, the Lord will give what is good, 
  and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him, 
  and make his footsteps a way.    (Ps 84. 8, 10-14)

.  .  .

In which days? Reading these passages calls to mind immediately the tension in which we live, between Christ’s death and resurrection, and the union of steadfast love and faithfulness. St Agnes died in that tension, very early in the fourth century, even as the shape of the Christian faith was emerging. And I can’t imagine what it would have been like, facing death so young. 

One of the central characters in Graham Greene’s novel, The End of the Affair, writes: ‘I want the dramatic always. I imagine I’m ready for the pain of your nails, and I can’t stand twenty-four hours of maps and Michelin guides. Dear God, I’m no use…Clear me out of the way.’ I suspect I would be more like Sarah Miles than St Agnes of Rome when it came to it: I am not that strong. 

My only hope is to be caught up in the exchange of divine love that draws all creation into it, into the kiss of steadfast love and faithfulness, to be hidden away in Christ, who was strong enough, and in whose strength alone I will find my own.


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