2Cor 9:6-10; Ps 112:1,2,5-9; Jn 12:24-26
As the story goes, the Deacon Lawrence was arrested for being a Christian, and he was commanded to bring the wealth of the church before his captors that they might reap some profit upon his arrest. The authorities knew that deacons in the church cared for the resources of the Church and distributed the goods to members and nonmembers alike, according to the need presented. At the appointed time Deacon Lawrence pointed to the poor and homeless of Rome and said, “Behold the treasure of the Church!” His captors were neither amused nor impressed. Not long after, they killed Saint Lawrence by roasting his flesh. This lavish gift of witness to Christ, in martyrdom was only the crowning of his daily gift to the poor. He had come to know the Lord Jesus in his ministry as a deacon and in his death he came to know the lavish gift of Christ as a martyr. Saint Paul knew the generosity of the Lord Christ as he wrote, “God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” Even our witness to Christ is a gift from the one for whom we lay down our lives. In this feast of the deacon and martyr Saint Lawrence the Father honors the one who served his Master faithfully. Let us join in such a feast, and exalt his memory in glory.
Saint Paul challenged his Corinthian converts not to hold back on their witness to faith in the Lord Jesus. He called them to reveal the generosity of God toward them in the abundant gifts of faith, hope, and love. The Lord Jesus is the Sower who sows bountifully and you are that bounty the Lord reaps, as Saint Paul exhorted. With such an example by the Lord himself, the Corinthians and all believers are called to be cheerful givers. Indeed only by giving without sadness or compulsion will we increase the harvest of righteousness. The true blessing of our generosity is known only when we can fully receive it when Christ Jesus is all in all, and when he presents us in joy to the glory of the Father as a living sacrifice of praise. Such was the glimpse of glory that kept Saint Lawrence faithful to the King of Martyrs, faithful even as his flesh roasted.
The Lord Jesus uses a mini-parable to give his disciples a glimpse of the glory yet ahead of them. The glory of being lifted up: on the cross, in the resurrection, in the ascension, to the Right Hand of the Father. This being lifted up is likened to a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. Only after it dies does it yield much fruit. So too with Saint Lawrence and all of us disciples, we must be transformed by the mystery of the cross. The cross of Christ is not merely a romantic memory of a sadistic follower of Christ; it is the power of self-sacrificing love, which alone can raise us beyond our self-centered love for life. Such self-centeredness must be hated. How can we love that which keeps us isolated from others and from God? To preserve life for an eternity of unity and love it is necessary to follow the Lord Jesus. To follow the Master we must love the cross, and become one with him who gave his life completely away upon the altar of the cross. Where the Lord Jesus is there will his servant be—lifted up. It is in this that the Father gives honor to Saint Lawrence and all true lovers of the cross and of the one who lost his life upon the cross so that we might find life, forever through him, with him and in him.