Saturday, December 13, 2008

DECEMBER 13 SAINT LUCY, VIRGIN AND MARTYR MEMORIAL

“Last Communion of St. Lucy”
by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo,
1747-48
DECEMBER 13

SAINT LUCY, VIRGIN AND MARTYR MEMORIAL
 

Biographical Information about St. Lucy [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Lucy

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING:
 
2 Corinthians 10:17-11:2

Brothers and sisters:
"Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord."
For it is not the one who recommends himself who is approved,
but the one whom the Lord recommends.
If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me!
Please put up with me.
For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God,
since I betrothed you to one husband
to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
 

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Commentary on
2 Cor 10:17-11:2

St. Paul, in these chapters from his second letter to the Corinthians, is in the middle of a defense of his own ministry. He tells them that rather than immodestly boasting about his own forceful proclamation of the Gospel, he boasts only in Christ who accomplishes all good works through those chosen by him, not those who put themselves forward bragging of what they accomplished. The reading concludes reminding the faithful that God has adopted them (St. Paul’s jealousy is of that adoption). His feelings, as he hands them on to Christ in faith, are those of a father who gives his virgin daughter to her husband, in this case Christ.

Used on the feast of a martyred saint, we see in those concluding remarks from Ch. 11 the heroic virtue of a virgin saint as she embraces her martyrdom infused with the love of one betrothed to Christ.

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RESPONSORIAL PSALM:
 
Psalm 31:3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17

R. (6) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

 
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name's sake you will lead and guide me.
 

R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
 
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
 

R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
 
Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors,
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
 

R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
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Commentary on
Ps 31:3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17

This is an individual lament. The section links nicely to the death of martyrs with “Into your hands I commend my spirit” and “You hide them in the shelter of your presence from the plottings of men.” The psalmist gives us a song of faith very appropriate for the one who is put to the test for their faith. It is a prayer for rescue and a submission of will to God's saving power. The section links nicely to the death of St. Lucy with “Into your hands I commend my spirit” and “You hide them in the shelter of your presence from the plottings of men.”

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GOSPEL:
 
Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
'Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.'
But the wise ones replied,
'No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.'
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!'
But he said in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour."
 

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Commentary on
Mt 25:1-13

St. Matthew’s Gospel gives us the parable of the Ten Virgins continuing the Gospel theme of preparedness and vigilance (although strictly speaking this parable is about foresight). In this story the idea of vigilance is expanded to include being prepared. The Jewish wedding customs of the time would have dictated a procession [at night] from the house of the bride to the house of the groom. The whole act is symbolic of the coming of the messianic era also portrayed as a wedding in Matthew 9:15, Matthew 22:1-14 and John 3:29. The wise virgins brought oil for their lamps while the foolish ones did not. The oil is interpreted by some scholars as referring to good works.

The overarching symbolism is the lamp of faith (light of the indwelling Holy Spirit) being kept burning with oil (good works). Hence, without good works (oil), the lamp will not continue to burn (James 2:17) and the virgins, so deprived of light, are excluded from the heavenly kingdom.

CCC: Mt 25:1-13 672, 796; Mt 25:1 672; Mt 25:6 1618; Mt 25:13 672
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Reflection:

We are guided by sacred scripture in our reflection about the life and example of St. Lucy. The parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us of the steadfast faith the young saint possessed as she patiently resisted the social customs that would have her married to a pagan. She prayed tirelessly that her mother, Eutychia, would call off her betrothal so she could dedicate her life to Christ, whose chaste bride she was to become. Through the intercession of yet another saint, Agatha, her mother received a miraculous cure, demonstrating God’s gracious will that Lucy’s gift of love should be accepted.

Her constancy and love for Jesus is reflected by St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as he expresses his jealousy over the love of his charges for Christ as the betrothed virgin for her husband. He feels the father’s pang of loss as their love of Christ outshines their affection for the apostle.

This love shown by St. Lucy caused the one to whom her mother had arranged marriage to show the true nature of jealousy as he denounced her as Christian to the governor of Sicily during the time of the Dioclesian persecutions. The resulting efforts of the guards sent to force her into prostitution, something the Lord did not permit by another miraculous intervention, demonstrated the power of Christ’s love and fidelity to those who love him. He sustained her through the torture that followed, torture that included having her eyes gouged out (but her vision was restored before she embraced the Lord in a martyr’s death).

Today we pray for the strength of St. Lucy. We pray that in the face of the trials we face, the challenges to or faith received from an unbelieving world or insidiously placed before us as temptations from the evil one, that we may be as unfailing in our faith as she was in hers.

Pax



[1] The picture used is “Last Communion of St. Lucy” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1747-48
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

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