18th Friday in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 10; Ps 112; John 12: 24 – 26
Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Edith Stein – known in religion as Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a convert from Judaism and a victim of the Holocaust – and at Vigils we heard a portion of her work “The Science of the Cross. She wrote: For those who are baptized in Christ are baptized in His death. They are submerged in His life in order to become members of His body.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us how to be submerged, plunged, inundated in His life so that our life is never superficially Christian but rather complete, total and profound. He said, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me.”
In those two verbs “serve” and “follow” it appears that Jesus put very simply what is the reality of discipleship, of living as a believer in spirit and in truth. To serve is clearly about action, about living externally, visibly the reality of discipleship and to follow is clearly about our identity in Christ, our interior life in the Holy Spirit.
To serve is to give of oneself – charity in thought, in word, in deed – never for personal gain, nor out of feelings of superiority, nor out of condescension – rather to lay down one’s life because Christ our Lord did and His word never loses its force: “Do this in memory of Me.”
To follow Christ is to live and grow ever more deeply into intimacy, in oneness, in communion with the mind of the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul put it this way, “For me to live is Christ” and “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”
Serve and follow – action and identity – to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ requires both – one without the other is not the truth and is not “of Christ”. St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, whose feast day we are celebrating witnessed even to his death by fire his life of action and identity in Christ.
May he intercede for us on our own journey of heartfelt service and faithful following – may our lives be marked by both!