13 Dec – Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin, Martyr
Rich, young Christian of Greek ancestry. Raised in a pious family, she vowed her life to Christ. Her Roman father died when she was young. Her mother, Eutychia, arranged a marriage for her. For three years she managed to keep the marriage on hold. To change the mother‘s mind about the girl‘s new faith, Lucy prayed at the tomb of Saint Agatha, and her mother‘s long haemorrhagic illness was cured. Her mother agreed with Lucy’s desire to live for God, and Lucy became known as a patron of those with maladies like her mother‘s.
Her rejected pagan bridegroom, Paschasius, denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor of Sicily. The governor sentenced her to forced prostitution, but when guards went to fetch her, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. The governor ordered her killed instead. After torture that included having her eyes torn out, she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afire; they went out. She prophesied against her persecutors, and was executed by being stabbed to death with a dagger. Her name is listed in the prayer “Nobis quoque peccatoribus” in the Canon of the Mass.
Legend says her eyesight was restored before her death. This and the meaning of her name led to her connection with eyes, the blind, eye trouble, etc.
– The Patron Saint Index
Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you,
I lead you in the way that you must go.
If only you had been alert to my commandments,
your happiness would have been like a river,
your integrity like the waves of the sea.
Your children would have been numbered like the sand,
your descendants as many as its grains.
Never would your name have been cut off or blotted out before me.
Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘What description can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place:
“We played the pipes for you,
and you wouldn’t dance;
we sang dirges,
and you wouldn’t be mourners.”
‘For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He is possessed.” The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions.’
Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions
Dear Pope Francis has just been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013. It was only this March, that most of the world was following the highly-publicised Papal Conclave. This election was more than a buzz of excitement – after all, EVERYONE was talking about it. This is the power and terror that is social media. I prayed together with the Church before and during the Conclave, and I still hold closely in my prayers, for our Pope’s office.
But it is not just Pope Francis for whom I pray. It is this battle, which is the Lord’s. At this point in His Eternity, we have standing as “General” and at the frontline, Pope Francis. This is a reality that I feel has been lost on many of us, Christians and not. One needs only to look at the countless Facebook “memes”, opinion articles, commentaries, and especially ones that make petty comparisons to the styles and language (even fashion!) of Pope Benedict to his successor. Yes, we cannot help but notice the differences, and having the right to our opinion, we state our preference of one personality over the other. It is not lost on me, that I now write my own take here.
I am reminded of this in today’s readings. Jesus admonishes the crowds in the gospel today, “What description can I find for this generation?” That generation he referred to is strikingly similar to ours today. This “culture of death”, of “secularism” and “relativism” is increasingly apparent. We choose to be aligned with the tune and morality that is convenient for us. In so many ways, both major and insignificant, it is a tough choice we need to make in each moment. Yet, “Happy indeed is the man…whose delight is the law of the Lord, who ponders his law day and night.” (Ps 1:1-2)
Very pointedly, Jesus observes of the time he lived in, “For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He is possessed.’ The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’.” (Mt 11:18-19) These words of Jesus reveal to me that we can be very fickle and forgetful, and very cruel judges. We are quick to criticize imperfections in others, yet fail to exact the same standards of ourselves. In His time and now ours, no holy man or upright teacher will be want of critics. And in this situation, Pope Francis has not been spared. Within the Church, his “slowness” in addressing hot-button issues are deemed as personal faults and betrayal of the Church’s teachings by some; while on the other end of the spectrum, it appears for now that he has been gaining favour with people who have left the Church, and even non-Christians. But many people are simply caught up with the “cult of personality” that is fleeting and temporal – cheering, mudslinging, or backsliding. They have forgotten the Church’s one foundation.
It is Christ! Christ is the face of our neighbour and brother. This is the beginning of Pope Francis’ long and arduous office. I give thanks that in his candid, passionate, and humble evangelism, he has “captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping on for the church at all” (Time magazine is quoted, when announcing the winner). You know, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII too, were each named Person of the Year in 1994 and 1962, respectively. God’s message remains. His messengers may come and go, they too are breaths given life within God’s Eternity. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Ultimately, Pope Francis himself constantly and resolutely points us to Christ. He delights in proclaiming the Gospel of love through his words and deeds. In his recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), he assures us this: “God does not hide himself from those who seek him with a sincere heart, even though they do so tentatively, in a vague and haphazard manner (71)”.
It is my deep prayer that we continue to turn our eyes to Jesus. We also need to gird our hearts and minds with knowledge and hunger for our Faith and what the Church stands for. While we look to persons who represent models of faith, be it the Saints and Martyrs and Pope Francis, may we never misplace our adoration and love for God on His earthly instruments. They are arrows who point to Christ – who is the Way, Truth and Life. May we remember this battle is the Lord’s, and its present “slowness” or “radiance”, through any circumstance or messenger, is all within His Eternal sovereignty.
As the Church Militant, we too are empowered to capture the imaginations of the people around us, to point them to Christ. This is the very missionary Church that Pope Francis has been preaching to us Christians – Love is the key ingredient.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Thanksgiving: Father, we give You praise, for blessing us with Your humble servant Pope Francis, who has a shepherd’s heart and inspires us to be better Christians.
Prayer: We ask Your forgiveness for the times we have strayed. We pray for each other to grow fervent in our Faith, and bring God’s love to those around us.