Memorial of St. Agatha

Mark 6:53-56
And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him, and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.

“…immediately the people recognized Him…”

Why is it that the people immediately recognized Jesus? The people had heard of a miracle worker who could bring healing to those who are sick. And this is why they sought Him out. At this time they did not know who Jesus really was. After all, that was a point for His miracles, that the people could gradually come to understand who He is – the Son of God. But they did not know this at this time, they only knew what He could do. They recognized Him only as the the fulfillment of their desires. In essence, when they saw Him it was as the answer of “what can you do for me?”

Now let us ask in what way did St. Agatha recognize Christ? Her recognition of Christ was completely different from the people in today’s Gospel. When she looked upon Christ it was not as the one who would bring fulfillment to her desires. Instead, when she looked on Christ she recognized the object of her desire. Her question to Christ was not “what can you do for me?” but, “what can I do for you?” She had a proper understanding of who Jesus Christ is – the Son of God and Lord of the Universe. And it is through this proper understanding and through her recognition of Christ as the object of her desire that she received the grace from God to endure her cruel martyrdom.

As Christians we too are called to recognize Christ in the way that St. Agatha did: as the One who is the object of our desire. In our pilgrimage of faith, though, we all begin at different points along the path of following Christ; some of us are closer to those in today’s Gospel and others are closer to St. Agatha. But unlike those in today’s Gospel, who may be excused for recognizing Christ incorrectly as merely the fulfillment of their desires, we must learn to always recognize Christ as did St. Agatha – the true Object of our desire and to whom we should only ask, “What can I do for you?”

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