Today we honour the memory of Saint Lucy, one of the first female martyrs to witness to Christ. Saint Lucy gave her life to God in the act of martyrdom. Will we offer God our lives and accept the easy yoke which Our Lord offers to those who take the time to listen to him?
Fiery destruction and judgement are strong themes in the first reading. Elijah is revered as the prophet who called down fire to consume his sacrifice and also to wipe out his enemies. This is the great prophet who was swept up to heaven in a flaming chariot and whose dramatic return the Hebrews awaited with a mixture of expectation and fear: expectation because of the hope that his return would rid the earth of all evil and injustice, and fear because everyone knew they harboured some degree of evil in their own hearts in the form of sin.
Elijah did return, in the person of John the Baptist. But John didn’t come to unleash the judgement of a vengeful God. Rather, he came “to put an end to wrath” in preparation for the Lord’s coming (Sirach 48:10). He came to proclaim the way out of human anger, which divides us from one another and estranges us from God. He came to call us to repentance so that we could soften our hearts. So yes, he did come to burn away evil, but with the fire of love, not vengeance or anger.
We may sometimes think of God as a punitive judge, but that’s not who our heavenly Father really is. His one constant goal is to bring us life in all its fullness. If he comes to destroy anything at all, it is those forces that block us from receiving this precious gift.