August 10, 2022
by George Butterfield
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Lectionary: 618

2 Corinthians 9:6-10
Psalm 112:1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9
John 12:24-26

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering Corporal Works of Mercy

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons in Rome during the persecution of the emperor Valerian in the year 258. He was responsible for ministering to the poor whose patron saint he has become. In his day there was likely no saint who was more loved than Lawrence. He was generous and kind.

All three readings today could have been written to describe St. Lawrence. In the first reading, St. Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver, one who doesn’t give with sadness or a sense of compulsion. St. Lawrence was just a bit too cheerful for the emperor. Instead of producing what the emperor thought were the treasures of the Church – silver and gold – Lawrence showed up with the poor of the city. I can imagine the smile on his face when Lawrence saw the emperor fly into a rage. Beheading wasn’t good enough for the smart-aleck deacon; let’s cook him to death. Lawrence has certainly had the last laugh because today he is also the patron saint of cooks! St. Paul said that if you sow sparingly you will reap sparingly but if you sow bountifully you will reap bountifully. Lawrence may have been able to spare his own life. He didn’t flinch in laying it down. To use St. Paul’s words, the harvest of his righteousness didn’t stop even with his death.

The psalmist speaks of the person, like Lawrence, who is gracious and lends to those in need. “His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth.” Who is celebrating the Roman Empire today? Lawrence’s posterity is singing his praises. “The just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.” Who remembers emperor Valerian? Yet, today we celebrate one that Valerian would have considered a nobody. God promised that those who lavishly give to the poor will experience a generosity that endures forever. Lawrence’s “horn” has been “exalted in glory.”

Lawrence’s life was described by Jesus as a grain of wheat. That grain fell to the ground and died. Almost eighteen hundred years later it is still producing fruit. Lawrence lost his life; thus, he preserved it. He served and followed Jesus. Jesus said “where I am, there also will my servant be.” Could anything be better for Lawrence than to simply be with Jesus? We honor Lawrence today and rightly so. However, I quite imagine that this means little to Lawrence. Better than that is what Jesus said about honor: “The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

St. Lawrence – honored by Almighty God. Could it get any better than that?

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