Today is the day that the Episcopal Church celebrates the martyrdom of a young girl named Agnes, killed by the Romans in 304 for being Christian. She was only about 12 or 13 when she died, a fact confirmed by her remains. According to information provided through satucket.com/lectionary, Agnes' execution on behalf of the Emperor so shocked the Roman people, it helped bring an end to the persecution of Christians.
Interestingly, one of the readings assigned for her Saint Day is from one of the most beautiful books in the Hebrew Bible: the Song of Songs.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.
--Song of Songs 2:10-13
Reading this, I was moved to reflect on assigning a passage such as this to a girl who presumably never had a lover (Agnes is the patron saint of young girls, virgins, and rape victims). Although, one could say she was in love with God, and it was her love for God expressed through a belief in Jesus as the Son of God that made her Christian. Her refusal to give in to marriage to the Prefect's son led to her violent death.
And I also found my mind turning back to yesterday's inauguration, and how appropriate these words are for the current euphoria in the country. Funny how these old texts can take on a multiplicity of meanings in our current day, isn't it!