Thursday, December 13, 2012

Valerius Herberger on St. Lucy

The Feast of St. Lucy, Virgin.

Veri Christiani, Luminaria mundi.
A heart that pleases God is a light of this world.

In the Name of the greatest, most noble Light of the World, Jesus Christ, who in the holy Gospel  from the lofty lampstand of His Cross, shines upon the whole Church, and so loves believing hearts that He shares His name with them, and not only calls them Children of Light, but "Lights of the World." — Most blessed with God the heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost in eternity. Amen.

Dear devout hearts, consider with diligence the beautiful words of the Lord Jesus from Matthew 5:14–16. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Lucy in German means an illuminatress, or a child of the light, as our Savior calls all His Christians, John 12:36; Luke 16:8. For she knew the great Light of the World, Jesus Christ, John 1:4; 8:12, and to His glory let the light of her faith shine before men by the beautiful rays of Christian virtue, according to the instruction of the Lord Christ, Matt. 5:16. For this reason I have undertaken to expound these words of the Lord Jesus. Wherefore let us briefly (1) summarize the words of Christ, and hear how He describes His sincere Christians, and then (2) consider how St. Lucy's faith and life agreed with what the Lord Jesus says.

O Lord, send Your Light and Your truth, that they may lead me and bring me to Your holy hill, and to Your habitation. Ps. 43:3.

Part II.

We are given a beautiful example in St. Lucy, who was also a light of the world. For she carried the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus, on the lampstand of her faith, and to His glory shone with beautiful rays of virtue as a light in the world

She was constantly asking her wealthy mother to do good to the poor. Her mother said, Wait till I kick the bucket, then you can give everything away. Then good Lucy said, Dear Mother, Da dum vivis, "Give while you live; then God will pay you back. For what you give when you die you give by necessity, only because you cannot take it with you. Otherwise you just leave it there." This is a good rule for those who always talk and prattle about what they will bequeath after their death and never get to it. Behold how her faith burns with beautiful rays of love for her poorer brothers and sisters in Christ!

When the wreath of her virginity was threatened to be taken by force, she said, Si inviolatam me violabis, castitas mihi duplicabitur ad coronam; non enim inquinatur corpus, nisi de consensu mentis, " 'If you violate me who am inviolate, I will gain a twofold crown for my chastity; for the body will not be defiled unless there is consent.' — But that shall never happen with my will."

When she was ordered to make offerings to false gods and to adhere to the older form of worship, she said, "I am assured what is the best, oldest, and most beautiful form of worship, a pure and spotless worship of God the Father, to wit, visiting widows and orphans in their affliction and keeping oneself unstained by the world." These words are found in James 1:27. Behold how her love for God's Word shone forth. How closely she must have listened to the sermon! Then the judge said, "Enough of this foolish talk, I pray you. Tell it to those who lack wisdom. I will abide by the counsel of those who rule the Roman empire." Then Lucy said, "Listen well, then. You shall abide by the counsel of those who rule the empire on earth, and shall I not abide by the counsel of the Most High who rules in heaven? John 6:29; Matt. 3:17; 17:5. You fear rulers, and shall I not fear God? You refuse to anger worldly powers, and shall I anger God? You delight to please princes, and shall I not delight to please God? Do what you cannot avoid; I will do what I know shall profit me for ever. Behold how her Christian heart shone forth!

Therefore God wrought great wonders in her: She could not be moved from her place. God protected her virginity as He did that of Susanna. She could not be burned, like the three confessors, Dan. 3:18. The ancient God was living yet. She could not be executed by the sword before she had been given the most worthy Supper. For the LORD does what the God-fearing desire, Ps. 145:19. The heathen said, "These are very tricks of sorcery. But she said, "Not at all. Rather, they are true and miraculous proofs of My Savior Jesus Christ's power."

There was also a famous Lady Lucy at the time of the cruel emperor Diocletian. She was treacherously exposed as a Christian by her own son, and was delivered over to death. No doubt she saw what Christ, Luke 12:51ff.… God grant all pious hearts patience who must still mourn such things today. Amen.

(From Valerius Herberger, Evangelische Hertz-Postille; translation © 2012 Matthew Carver.)

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