I was rather unsettled, overwhelmed even, by today's readings. Both the first reading (1st Samuel) and the Gospel present situations of peril for God's chosen one. David is threatened by Saul's envy, and Jesus by the triple threat of his adversaries' envy, the demons' displays and the crowds who are ready to stampede in their eagerness to wrest a miracle from him. David withdraws to the wilderness; Jesus withdraws toward the sea and puts things in place for a water escape. (Maybe he had "withdrawn to the sea" to pray. So many people "find God in nature," all the more woudl he "through whom all things were made." David has Jonathan; Jesus has his disciples (good thing some of them had boats!).
And then there's the opening prayer for today's feast of St. Agnes, which highlights the human weakness of this pre-teen martyr: "You choose what the world considers weak to put worldly power to shame." Agnes, too, was in a situation of mortal peril.
Danger, weakness, vulnerability: that's the focus of today's liturgy. The Gospel (and its third century expression in the story of Agnes) promises that we will still "conquer overwhelmingly through him who l0ved us."