“Behold, now she follows the Lamb who was crucified for us, powerful in virginity, modesty her offering, a sacrifice on the altar of chastity.”
Modesty. Is that even a word anymore, much less a thing? Every year, Webster’s adds a smattering of new words to their renowned dictionary in order to keep in step with the vernacular. I figured long ago that the word modesty was actually taken out. Ask a child under the age of 13 to define it for you. You’d be hard-pressed to find one in twenty who could. Modesty doesn’t ring up Instagram followers. Modesty won’t fill your Facebook Comments Section with complimentary albeit largely disingenuous words of praise.
The verse chosen to kick off today’s Reflection was in fact the Entrance Antiphon read at Mass today on this the Feast Day of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr of our Church. Much has been written about the miraculous life of this intrepid young saint https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Feast-of-Saint-Lucy; she remains a pillar of purity, courage and obedience and a powerful intercessor for so many. “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life” was today’s Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 1 as a matter of fact, an appropriate choice given the fact that the name Lucy is taken from the word meaning “lucid” or “the light.” As you read through them, they underscore many of the virtues that defined Saint Lucy’s life.
“Blessed the one who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the way of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.” As a beautiful young woman who was handpicked to be the wife of a well-to-do suitor, Lucy could have easily settled into a life of insolence, a dreadful quality if ever there was one. Trust funds and the inheritance of ungodly wealth has spawned some of the more heinous crimes in recent memory, the NXIVM Sex Cult Case being a recent and tragic example. Inside young Lucy’s heart burned the desire to be far more than a mere trophy wife.
“For the Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes” concludes today’s Psalm, a fitting reminder that the Saints are immortalized, celebrated and venerated throughout eternity, heaven and beyond. Those on the other hand who preen and prance about in a never-ending display of self-worship, those on top of the vapid, swiftly passing secular world, are a non-entity in paradise.
Vindication would seem to be the operative word in today’s Readings. We hear it in our 1st Reading (Isaiah 48:17-19) when the Lord explains “If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea.” It returns in our Gospel (Matthew 11:16-19) wherein Jesus sums up his exasperation with his generation, those who scoffed at the austerity of John the Baptist while simultaneously accusing Jesus of being devoid of said-virtue, a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario if ever there was one. But as Jesus points out, “Wisdom is vindicated by her works.“
“They laughed at me because I was different. I laughed at them because they were all the same” said the bumper sticker on the car perched in front of me this morning. The Saints are different. They lived different lives, often mocked, often laughed at, often viewed to have toiled in vain, mired in a life of sacrifice and hardship. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John of the Cross, a man who devoted his life to working with Saint Theresa of Avila, for whom he served as Spiritual Advisor, in reforming the Discalced Carmelite Order, becoming one of only 36 Doctors of the Church in the process. He was also a prolific writer, a rare talent for poetry one of his numerous literary gifts. He could have easily been the Oscar Wilde or Pablo Neruda of his generation. He opted instead to compete well for the faith, a choice that earned him imprisonment, where he wrote “Dark Night of the Soul,” perhaps the crown jewel of his bibliography. “What a waste” those in the secular world say. “Oh the money he could’ve made as a writer, as a poet. The fame, the adulation.” But ultimately we know that John of the Cross, like Saint Lucy, like Jesus, was ultimately vindicated. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, their departure thought to have been a disaster. But their hope is full of immortality (Wisdom 3:2-4).
Sunday’s 2nd Reading (James 5:7-10) will speak of the virtue of patience. Vindication takes patience. It takes courage, not to mention faith and wisdom, maybe even a sense of humor every once in a while. May vindication be yours this Advent Season, but more importantly, may it be your eternal fate.
“Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.” ~ Isaiah 35:4