Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 12-13-22

For the 3rd Week of Advent, Tuesday, 12-13-22, Year A
Readings: Zep 3:1-2, 9-13; Ps 34:2-3,6-7,17-18,19,23; Gospel Mt 21:28-32
Memorial: St. Lucy, Virgin & Martyr, Died 304 AD.
Theme:  Change for The Better

How many of us are lulled into a life that is contrary to God’s will for us? In a way, we can just slip into a life that fits this world and not God’s. We may very well have good intentions of living a pious life but have been slowly brainwashed into convincing ourselves that the life society offers is that of God’s will. This is precisely why God sends us prophets, priests, and holy men and women, so that they can point out our wayward ways and lift the wool that covers our eyes.

When we are brought face to face with a prophet or holy person who tells us something contrary to what we currently believe, do we change?

Jesus sets up a parable to catch the chief priest and elders of Israel in their own ruse to catch Him off guard, except it is not Jesus who is caught off guard but they themselves. The chief priest and elders have had all sorts of prophets and holy people confront them in their lack of following God’s will. Now, God himself is pointing out their wayward lives and He bluntly says that they are hearers and not doers. They tell Jesus what they think He wants to hear just to appease Him but do not lift a finger to change anything in their lives. They are the ones who say, “I will do it, but did not go.”

In the first reading, Zephaniah tells us what will happen to those who have righteousness proclaimed to them but do not listen or change their lives, “For then will I remove from your midst the proud braggarts. And you shall no longer exalt yourself on my holy mountain.” Zephaniah goes on to say that for those who suffered the obstinance and pride of these people, the Lord said, “I will leave a remnant in your midst, a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord: the remnant of Israel.”

This is one of those times where we want to be the remnant, the leftover, those who pick up the pieces and carry-on God’s plan. For some of us it could mean martyrdom, whether in mind or body, much like St. Lucy.

Not much is known about St. Lucy. Most stories of her life are considered legends. The most prevailing accounts have her being born in the late 3rd century in Syracuse (Sicily) Italy. At that time there was a great persecution of Christians by Diocletian. The people had been lulled and convinced that current society, as they knew it, influenced by the Roman Empire, was the righteous way to live. But those who did not prescribe to the norms of current society that were counter to God’s will, stood their ground. St. Lucy was one of those. At a young age, a suiter wanted her in marriage, but she declined because her life was dedicated to God as a virgin. When he could not convince her, or her mother, he complained to the Governor about her Christian faith.

The Governor first tried to remove her virginity by taking her to a brothel, but she could not be moved. Then he tried to burn her to death at the stake but could not get the fire to light. Finally, he dispatched her with the sword in 304 AD, but before doing so, as a testament against her proclaiming God’s rath against him, he had her eyes gouged out.

Years later, when her body was being moved, it is said that her eyes were restored. You may see many images of St. Lucy holding a plate with eyes on it, or her hands with eyes in the palms. St. Lucy is the patron saint of eye diseases, the blind, and all of Sicily. Her name means to be lucid or have light and luminance. 

St. Lucy knew the right path and would not allow society to change the unchangeable, God’s Will. We should make note of St. Lucy’s pious life of commitment to God and fend off societal norms that are contrary to God’s will. We should live a holy life, even if it means persecution and martyrdom. It is better to live a shorter life in Holiness than a longer life in sinful disregard for the Truth.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL