13 December – Memorial for St. Lucy, Virgin, Martyr
Lucy (c. 283) was a rich, young Christian of Greek ancestry. She was raised in a pious family, and 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 St. 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, who sentenced her to forced prostitution. But when the 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 that 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.
– Patron Saint Index
I, the Lord, your God,
I am holding you by the right hand;
I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid,
I will help you.’
Do not be afraid, Jacob, poor worm,
Israel, puny mite.’
I will help you – it is the Lord who speaks –
the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer.
See, I turn you into a threshing-sled,
new, with doubled teeth;
you shall thresh and crush the mountains,
and turn the hills to chaff.
You shall winnow them and the wind will blow them away,
the gale will scatter them.
But you yourself will rejoice in the Lord,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
The poor and needy ask for water, and there is none,
their tongue is parched with thirst.
I, the Lord, will answer them,
I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.
I will make rivers well up on barren heights,
and fountains in the midst of valleys;
turn the wilderness into a lake,
and dry ground into waterspring.
In the wilderness I will put cedar trees,
acacias, myrtles, olives.
In the desert I will plant juniper,
plane tree and cypress side by side;
so that men may see and know,
may all observe and understand
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm. Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading; and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!’
Among those born of women, there has been none greater than John the Baptist
Scripture, like Life, is full of incongruencies and inconsistencies. John the Baptist’s life started with so much promise. Here was one filled with the Holy Spirit at birth. He was supposed to be destined for great things. His birth was a miracle, and like all men born of miracle births, much was expected of him. And yet, life did not work out the way everyone thought it would, for John.
He spent his youth waiting to fulfil what he thought would be his destiny, never really sure if it was going to happen for him. His parents passed on while he was still young, so while he was lonely before, in his adult years he led a hermetic existence. When he eventually developed his ministry, it was quickly surpassed by that of Jesus. And though he was always prepared for it to happen, it must have been hard to swallow to have his career cut short like that. John’s end was just as incongruent. If there was no man, greater than John the Baptist, why did he have to suffer such an ignominious end, reduced to a punctuation at the end of a cruel dinner party prank? It’s hard to wrap our head around Scripture’s inconsistencies. This is what happens to one blessed by God?
What is consistent amongst the men and women of God though, is the tenacity with which they stayed their course. There were moments of doubt for sure and often, we hear long, plaintive discourses with a mostly silent God. We hear the wavering in their voices, the questioning, the self doubt. But they stayed their course despite their misgivings. There must have been times when alone in his prison cell, John would have wondered to himself, ‘Is this it, Lord? Is this all there is to me? Where are you Lord?’
Often, we wonder the same about ourselves. We go through such great lengths to get educated, to build a life, put together a CV of experience that reads well and yet we can’t seem to find a job. Or we put in the hours, yet the years pass and we get nowhere in our careers. Or we invest our life’s savings into a business, and the economy tanks. And we think, ‘Is this it, Lord? Is this all there is to me?’ It’s crushing to the self-esteem, and as the years roll on, debilitating to the soul, when we see how time has passed us by. John must have felt at times, like he had wasted his life waiting. Waiting for The Lord, waiting to fulfil his destiny, waiting to be released from Herod’s arrest, waiting, always waiting for deliverance. Waiting for God.
There are times when waiting, we sleep with despair, we wake with despair, we breathe despair. And still The Lord does not show His face. Still there is no redemption, no deliverance. The waiting is the hardest part because we never know when it will end. In these times, it is hard to hold on, but hold on we must. As the Hebrews held on, so too must we. As Moses held on, so too must we. As John the Baptist held on, so too must we. All things happen in God’s time, and as hard as it is to do, as much as our soul cries out in anguish, it is for us to wait on Him. All things in His time. For those blessed by God, deliverance will come – whether in this life or the next.
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray Lord, for those waiting on You to see their deliverance. Be merciful Lord, and bring comfort to those who wait faithfully for the ripeness of Your time.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the examples in Scripture, of greater men than us, who have persevered and prevailed. We give thanks for the hope they give us. All things in His time.