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Liturgical day: December 13th: St. Lucia, virgin and martyr

Gospel text (Mt 25,1-13): Jesus told this parable to his disciples, «This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven. Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were careless while the others were sensible. The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were and did not bring extra oil. But those who were sensible, brought with their lamps flasks of oil. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.

»But at midnight, a cry rang out: ‘The bridegroom is here, come out and meet him!’. All the maidens woke up at once and trimmed their lamps. Then the careless ones said to the sensible ones: ‘Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out’. The sensible ones answered: ‘There may not be enough for both you and us. You had better go to those who sell and buy for yourselves’. They were out buying oil when the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him to the wedding feast, and the doors were shut.

»Later the rest of the bridesmaids arrived and called out: ‘Lord, Lord, open to us’. But he answered: ‘Truly, I do not know you’. So, stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour».

«The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were and did not bring extra oil»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we commemorate St. Lucia, virgin and martyr. The parable of today’s Gospel reflects what the life of men on Earth is. Now, in our time, we all have the torch of life, which supposedly is to produce light, i.e., bear fruit. This is the most judicious! At the same time, we all desire eternity: in fact, all the virgins in the parable wanted to go out to meet the bridegroom. But, to enter into Life, it must be illuminated by faith, just as the lamp works on oil.

Lucia - which means "light for the world" - was educated in the Christian faith and she consecrated her virginity to God. To preserve her virginal love for Jesus Christ she was martyred the year 304. It was when the emperor Diocletian instigated the third great persecution against the Christians. This emperor, who retired shortly, afterwards, was able to witness the peace for all Christians with the proclamation of the Edict of Milan, in the year 313, by Emperor Constantine.

So things are: Lucia, a simple girl, still a virgin, and Diocletian, a full emperor, were contemporaneous. Lucia will always be remembered all over the world with joy by many people: her name is even included amongst the Saints mentioned in the 1st Eucharistic Prayer (the "Roman Canon") of the Mass. The memory of Diocletian, on the contrary, does not go beyond the Church history books that describe the persecutions of the Roman Empire against the Christians. A sad and worthless memory!

The memory of the Saints — especially of the martyrs - is not lost nor wears out with the passage of centuries. This is what remains: holiness. The remaining things just go by... With St. Ambrose’s words, «Christ wanted you, Christ chose you (...). Retain Him, ask Him not to leave. The word of God is not understood by tedium or retained by neglect. We embrace Christ against us by the bonds of charity, by the reins of the understanding; we retain Him with the love of our soul». The understanding of the faith and the charity links: this is what remains immortalized forever...