19th Wednesday in Ordinary Time
Feast of Saint Lawrence
2 Corinthians 9: 6-10; John 12: 24-26
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence who was put to death simply because he was a deacon. According to tradition, Lawrence had been assisting Pope Sixtus at the altar when both were arrested. After Sixtus was beheaded, Lawrence was given three day to collect and hand over the treasure of the church. During which time, he sold all the vessels of the church and gave the proceeds to the poor of Rome. According to the traditional accounts, Lawrence led a procession of poor, crippled, blind and suffering people into the emperor’s present and boldly declared: “These are the true treasures of the Church.”
It is shocking at times to think some people are more concerned about the sacred vessels of the altar than about human beings who are sacred to God. Viewed in the context of today’s feast, we can say that a church that has a large endowment and a beautifully appointed sanctuary cannot consider itself rich as long as there are poor and destitute people sitting outside its door unattended to. Money bestowed in charity is the seed sown with a prodigal hand. Help should be given freely and cheerfully, not grudgingly. If we truly believed that God has a homeland prepared for us, we would waste less on ourselves and sow more in hope of a bountiful harvest. God is able to make grace abound in and around us. He can and does provide us with our daily bread, giving us enough to supply for the needs of others. We must never forget the unspoken answer to Cain’s question. We are our brother’s keeper!
The great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus in the poor and to recognize Him in the Breaking of the Bread. As we are fed by the Living Bread, we should pledge ourselves to become bread to feed the world. A loaf of bread cannot be made unless the wheat grain is sown into the earth where it casts off its outer shell and releases the abundant life it contains. The salvation of the world depends upon the self-emptying of the wheat grain. In the church, everything is oriented and consummated by values that begin with charity and with realities that are destined to remain, even after this world passes away. Like Saint Lawrence, may we desire to be a sacrifice worthy of the Master so as to bring about the transformation of the world.