Many of our young people can tell you of the difficulties they face in trying to remain pure, especially before marriage. But we cannot think of that as simply one more of our modern problems, because it has been a problem for a long time now. St. Lucy could tell you that. She was born of noble parents in Sicily around the year 283. Her father died early in her life, and so she was dependent on her mother. She consecrated her virginity to God and sought to renounce worldly possessions in favor of caring for the poor. Her mother, after suffering from a hemorrhage for several years, decided to make a pilgrimage to Catania, to see the relics of St. Agatha. She was indeed cured, and in her joy consented to Lucy’s desire to give greatly to the poor.
But that generosity, probably mixed with frustration over her commitment to virginity before marriage, was viewed with great skepticism by her unworthy suitor, who denounced her as a Christian to the Governor of Sicily. She was condemned to a life of prostitution, but prayer rendered her immovable and she could not be dragged off to the house of ill repute! At that point, logs were piled around her and a fire was set, which had no effect on her at all. She was finally dispatched with a sword and suffered martyrdom for her belief in Christ.
As one of the prominent figures of Advent, St. Lucy, along with John the Baptist in today’s Gospel reading, points the way to the coming Christ. The details of her story have been disputed, but the point of the story is not to provide a historical record, but rather a spiritual record. Her commitment to Christ, and her desire to make the pathway straight, as did John the Baptist, provided a rich and unobstructed pathway for the entrance of Christ into her heart.
We too have challenges along the way to Christ. We might not be called to give our lives rather than forsake our virginity or even our belief in Christ, but we are called to lay down our lives to cover the rough places in the road so that others can come to find Him. Along the way, we are encouraged by great saints like Agatha, Lucy and John the Baptist. Every single one of them points us in the right direction: to Christ the One of whom Isaiah speaks: Christ who will be our redeemer. “But you shall rejoice in the LORD,” Isaiah tells us, “and glory in the Holy One of Israel.”