Before I take on the daunting task of commenting on today’s contenders, a few, as they say at all those conferences and seminars, “housekeeping details.”
First: the winner of yesterday’s bracket. Survey says…Jonathan Daniels! Wow, I did better in my first Lent Madness election than I did in my first presidential election!
Second: when you come to church on Sunday (no excuses about it’s being too hard to find a place to park and too hard to get through all the artists’ booths! While other churches across the land will be wallowing in I Lent we get to enjoy one of our liturgical high points: Art Show Sunday Mass! Don’t forget this year it starts at 8:30) — so when you come to church on Sunday you will be greeted by a big poster-sized rendering of the Lent Madness scoreboard with the winners of the first 3 brackets filled in.
Now, on today’s match-up: John the Baptist and Lucy
J the B: Yes, that is a tasty locust on his dinner plate. Mmmmm, nom noms! As we know from hearing Gospel passages about him — two every Advent for starters — (why he gets half that season to himself is still a mystery to me. Lectionary compilers, I’m still waiting for a phone call if you need my advice) as well as at other times during the year, John baptized Jesus in the River Jordan and the sky opened and a dove came down and said “this is my Son with whom I’m well-pleased.” John is a bridge, leading us into the promise of the New Testament — the promise of Christ– that God will ultimately liberate us from the final bondage we face and fear, namely death. John is often referred to as the last of the Old Testament prophets. His message of repent! repent! resonates with the words of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the other OT giants. Imagine John’s surprise that Jesus comes not to condemn the world but to save it.
Lucy: Not much is known about her — she was born into a wealthy family in Syracuse (Italy, not New York) in the late 3rd century and was martyred in the early 4th. Legend has it that Lucy was one of those early Christian gals who wanted to remain a virgin rather than marry the pagan man her parents had chosen for her so she prayed that her mother be healed of a debilitating illness, she was and so presto the parental units agreed, no marriage to Pompous the Pagan! He, however, was so miffed at this turn of events that he ratted her out to the Roman governor and she was eventually killed. (If you want to read the gory details, go here, where you can also read about the whole eye thing. Do the writers of Criminal Minds get their inspiration from some of these ancient martyrdom stories???). Lucy’s name means “light” and countries in Northern Europe< who are in much need of light come December, celebrate her feast day (yup, the one with the girl with the lit candles on her head). She also loans her name to that vaunted Italian ditty: “Santa Lucia,” as well as to the romantic Caribbean getaway.
This one is a fairly easy choice for me: I’m casting my lot with John the Baptist this time. He had the courage to speak out against evil as he saw it (though he might have gone a tad too far with that whole “brood of vipers” thing…). It is powerful to me that Jesus chose to be baptized — a tangible way of completely immersing himself in our humanity, just as in our baptisms we are immersed in his divinity. As Father Stowe has said, every preacher has one sermon and for me it often centers around the marching orders we take on in our baptismal vows. I also appreciate that John was wrong about what he thought the Messiah should be, and yet is still one of our Christian heroes. God does not expect us to be right, or perfect, just faithful
To cast your vote, go here