Women of Advent and Christmas: Lucy
- 2011 13 Dec
There is darkness and then there is a night sky filled with stars. The first is hellish despair, but the second is a chance to look up toward the lights of Heaven.
Advent allows us to follow a Holy Star toward Bethlehem where we will find the light of the World, the Son of God. One woman is part of that journey and her life is a good light to guide us.
A simple Roman woman died and is remembered as a hero of the faith on December 13: Lucy. She is one of the great women of Advent and Christmas and there is much we can learn from her example.
Most remarkable is how unremarkable Lucy seems to us. She was a young woman, unmarried, who faced the entire might of the Roman Empire and was murdered. Lucy had given herself to God and refused marriage to a non-Christian. In consequence, she lost her eyes and then her life to an Empire that could not accept any authority beyond that of the state.
Lucy was a good citizen, but she refused to be defined by her patriotism. Loyalty to the state was limited to her higher devotion to God. Her name means "light" and her eyes were filled with visions of a greater kingdom than that ruled by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Rome tried to stop the light and those visions by blinding her, but succeeded only in making a heroine.
Every man or woman who stands for the liberty of the human soul against a tyrannical state shares the vision of Lucy and her courage. We remember her on the shortest day of the year, but heavenly light is greater than the light of the sun. Those who follow the example of Lucy are never in darkness.
Christians, unlike their pagan counterparts, can find victory in defeat. The Lord Jesus was killed when He did not deserve it and so Christians, following the example of the Jewish people, had to face that they cannot keep score based only on what happens in this life.
We live for eternity and not just for today. That is hard to do, since sometimes that means embracing pain today. Our non-Christian neighbors will not understand and sometimes our Christian friends will not understand. We make a vow to God, as Lucy did with her virginity, and we find many ways to break our vow. We love this life more than the Life to come.
Legends like Lucy do what love demands and loves her Beloved more than her life. He rescues her, takes her to Paradise, and makes her great. We have the same option if we chose wisely.
Lucy would not compromise in love. She knows that a woman or man can have many loves or one great love and she chose a grand romance. She chose Jesus Christ, became His bride, and he did not fail her. We choose less wisely and our loves each fail us. The repetitive failure embitters us and we blame love, when we should blame ourselves and our bad choices.
Lucy took a risk on love and was rewarded with immortality.
Lucy had the courage that love provides. She was young, but she was wise. She knew the Empire could not give her Jesus and it was Jesus she wanted. Lucy also knew the Empire could not take Jesus from her so there was nothing to fear.
They blinded Lucy to the light of the sun and left her with the vision she craved of the Son.
They killed Lucy to a world that did not have her Beloved and sent her to a world that did.
Lucy lost her eyes to the cruelty of pagan Rome, but she lit up their cruelty in lights. Dante calls her the enemy of all cruelty and traditionally Christians remember her in acts of compassion. We treat each man as we would Jesus, because we see the image of God in each man or woman.
Lucy gives me hope.
Simple Lucy surpassed many of the wise and great in virtue and holiness. We admire generals, politicians, and the wealthy, but God admires those redeemed to virtue. There is no SAT to allow entrance to the school of souls, sanctity is available to all of us.
Lucy is one of the great women of Advent and Christmas.
Originally posted December 10, 2009.
John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Professor of Philosophy at Biola University. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. John Mark Reynolds can be found blogging regularly at Scriptorium Daily.
Image: ''Saint Lucy'' by Domenico di Pace Beccafumi (1486-1551). Taken from en-Wikipedia. en:Image:Beccafumilucy.jpg