10 August – Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Lawrence was a third-century archdeacon of Rome, a distributor of alms, and “keeper of the treasures of the Church” in a time when Christianity was outlawed. On 6 August 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope St. Sixtus II and six deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome.
While in prison awaiting execution, Sixtus reassured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it.
On Aug 10, Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome’s crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.
Lawrence’s care for the poor, the ill, and the neglected have led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including the documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. And his incredible strength and courage when being grilled to death led to his patronage of cooks and those who work in or supply things to the kitchen. The meteor shower that follows the passage of the Swift-Tuttle comet was known in the middle ages as the “burning tears of St. Lawrence” because they appear at the same time as Lawrence’s feast.
– Patron Saint Index
2 Corinthians 9:6-10
Do not forget: thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap. Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver. And there is no limit to the blessings which God can send you – he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works. As scripture says: He was free in almsgiving, and gave to the poor: his good deeds will never be forgotten.
The one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide you with all the seed you want and make the harvest of your good deeds a larger one.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.’
Whoever serves me must follow me
I sometimes get caught up in my self-righteous thoughts that I am worthy of God’s blessings and providence. I have made some comparisons regarding the situations in my life to others I know — either Sunday Catholics or non-believers, and even a lady who has same sex attraction. At the outset, it seemed that these people were happier than me. I told myself surely that is the wrong way to go, knowing that God has a plan in my life. I could not blame God for my own lack of happiness, because happiness is both a choice and a decision on my part. In a sense, I was focussing on “The Father will honour who serves me”, totally discounting this verse, “whoever serves me, must follow me”.
It is human nature to follow what we want and to ignore what we choose, but today’s gospel tells us that following Jesus is our service. In the weeks leading up to World Youth Day, I regretted the decision of signing up for the mission, thinking merely about the comforts and security of my home and being selective about the pilgrims on my journey. But God, in His goodness, turned my heart around and convicted me that it was His will for me to go on this pilgrimage with His chosen ones. The power of His purification was to a point that I was open to anything, which gave me a great sense of peace about my journey, travel, health, safety as well as the responsibilities I leave behind. Was that following Him? It sure feels like it.
How is God calling you to follow Him today? What familiar shores are you called to leave now? Are you sowing riches abundantly to the poor and needy or are you giving only when there is excess?
Today, let us open our hearts to reach out to the poor, the forgotten, the lonely, the Sunday Catholics, the non believers. This should be our way of following in the footsteps of Our Lord. Let us forgive, love, embrace, accept as He would, let us emulate His Sacred Heart.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Father, give us a heart like yours that we may want to follow your ways and answer each time you call. St Lawrence, pray for us. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for blessing us and providing for us Father, we are so undeserving.