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Monday, January 21, 2008

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St. Agnes

1 Samuel 15:16-23
Psalm 50
Mark 2:18-22

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"Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction." —1 Samuel 15:18

In the Old Testament, the Lord often told the Israelites to put their enemies "under the ban," that is, to completely destroy all the people and livestock of their enemies. This practice seems strange to us, but it is a profound revelation about the nature of sin. Sin is something like cancer. Unless we get all of it, it will spread and destroy us.

In the New Testament, we no longer fight against human beings but against demons (see Eph 6:12). Therefore, we don't put people "under the ban"; instead, we ban "Satan, all his works, and all his empty promises," as we promised at baptism. We "have no love for the world, nor the things that the world affords" (1 Jn 2:15). We save ourselves "from this generation which has gone astray" (Acts 2:40). We "make no provision for the desires of the flesh" (Rm 13:14). We crucify our "flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal 5:24). We exterminate from our lives anything not pleasing to the Lord. We "bring every thought into captivity to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor 10:5).

We can "purify ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit" (2 Cor 7:1) because Jesus put every sin which has ever or will ever be committed "under the ban." Jesus took all our sins to Calvary. He became sin (see 2 Cor 5:21) and in His death all sin died. Put sin under the ban, and walk under the banner of God's love (Sg 2:4, JB).

Prayer:  Father, by repentance may I let You remove all the cancer of sin from my life.

Promise:  "The day will come, however, when the Groom will be taken away from them; on that day they will fast." —Mk 2:20

Praise:  St. Agnes' holiness put to shame the brothel to which she was sentenced for being a Christian. As a result, she was martyred for her purity and faith in Jesus.

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 30, 2007

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