Slay the Giant

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

First Reading: Sirach 47:2-11

Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings,
so was David in Israel.
He made sport of lions as though they were kids,
and of bears, like lambs of the flock.
As a youth he slew the giant
and wiped out the people’s disgrace,
When his hand let fly the slingstone
that crushed the pride of Goliath.
Since he called upon the Most High God,
who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior
and raise up the might of his people,
Therefore the women sang his praises,
and ascribed to him tens of thousands
and praised him when they blessed the Lord.
When he assumed the royal crown, he battled
and subdued the enemy on every side.
He destroyed the hostile Philistines
and shattered their power till our own day.
With his every deed he offered thanks
to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole being he loved his Maker
and daily had his praises sung;
He set singers before the altar and by their voices
he made sweet melodies,
He added beauty to the feasts
and solemnized the seasons of each year
So that when the Holy Name was praised,
before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.
The LORD forgave him his sins
and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty
and established his throne in Israel.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 18:31, 47 AND 50, 51

R. (see 47b) Blessed be God my salvation!
God’s way is unerring,
the promise of the LORD is fire-tried;
he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations,
and I will sing praise to your name.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!

Gospel: Mark 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


feb 5

The giant had taken hold of me and my peace, and I remember the day I sought out help. I sat restlessly in the chair and watched my doctor flip through her notes with ease. She glanced back-and-forth, back-and-forth through the pages of test results. Occasionally her head would pop up and she’d ask, “Which vitamins are you taking?” or “How long have you been trying?” And I’d answer dutifully as my heart beat wildly inside of my chest.

And then they came. The answers. She rattled off studies and lab orders and dietary restrictions, and I listened in suspense. I listened and I let it sink deep into my memory until I suddenly found myself diligently thumbing through the gluten-free section of the grocery store and hoarding bottles of Omega-3 in my shopping cart.

We all struggle with a giant in our lives. You see, infertility had been my giant for nearly ten years. It’s the type of giant that sends you tumbling down in a river of tears every month. And I tried everything to fix it. Diets, teas, hormonal supplements, you name it. But on the days when the broken wouldn’t fix and the giant wouldn’t relent, I’d find myself in my husband’s arms. He would swoop me up into his compassion and ask me kindly, “Have you invited God into this?”

The truth was that I had invited God into my epic battle with this giant, but that was the problem, you see. It was my battle. Sure, I’d pray and I’d seek His answer, but at the end of the day, it was my fight and I was bent on doing everything in my power to win—vitamins, diets, teas, etc.

As I reflected on today’s First Reading, I was caught by the line that said, “Since he called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm to defeat the skilled warrior and raise up the might of his people.” Because how often do we call upon God for help through little skirmishes of our fight but fail to relinquish control to Him for the main battle?

Let go. He will slay the giants in your life if you let Him.

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Find ways to let go of the battles you are fighting alone and invite God into them.

photo credit

Brittany Calavitta is an enthusiastic advocate for a good book, strong coffee, and a hopeful heart. She currently resides in Irvine, California with her hipster husband and overweight Chihuahua. You can find out more about her here.

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