"When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him." Mt 21 31-32
Today's scripture and feast is a difficult one for me. Perhaps like some of you, when I get involved in a heated argument, it often becomes more important for me to be right than in relationship. I have struggled with this my entire life and it is not difficult for me to see myself among the Pharisees trying to convince everyone, without regard for the truth or what is happening right in front of me, that Jesus is a charlatan. That thousands are listening to John the Baptist announce that he is not the Christ and convincing even prostitutes and tax collectors that his message is from God, the Pharisees suggest that prostitutes and tax collectors are poor witnesses and will do anything to feather their own nests. Failing to even consider the humility and honesty of John, especially when he points to Christ as "the one who is to come," (Lk 7:18-19) they risk their salvation for the sake of their fragile power within the Jewish community of Jesus' day.
The feast of St. Lucy only increases my discomfort. After she rejects a proposal of marriage, the fellow she spurns "accuses" her of believing in the Christ, and even though she realizes the danger, Lucy acknowledges that indeed she is a Christian. When she refuses to recant her belief, she is martyred. We know little else about her life, but the early church held her up, even including her name in the first Eucharistic prayer, because of her simple, direct an unwavering faith. What a challenge she is to us. Lucy knows who she is, will not equivocate about her faith and suffers death as a result. Faith, Lucy's witness reminds us, is simple. God gifts us with belief and the treasure is so real and so powerful that it is strong enough to sustain us in the face of death. Simplicity, honesty and integrity are the fruits of a faith deeply valued and lived. It is only when we complicate faith unnecessarily for the sake of our own comfort that we risking losing the most precious gift we will ever receive.
Today, pray to join St. John the Evangelist when he reminds us: "He must increase; I must decrease." Jn 3:30