- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for August 10, 2021 – The Feast of St. Lawrence

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

The Feast of St. Lawrence

(2 Cor 9: 6 – 10; Ps. 112; John 12: 24 – 26)

St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, those two titles beautifully describe his life – a
man who served the people of God graciously and a witness to Jesus Christ
faithful to the end. Like the grain of wheat which falls to the earth and in dying
produces abundant fruit so Lawrence, dying to himself, took the Word of God
into himself, embraced it, lived it with strong conviction and courageous
generosity.

His faithfulness to Christ even to a horrendous death filled the Church of Rome
with an act of incomprehensible fidelity that was seen as incomprehensible
insanity by the Roman authorities.

When Lawrence heard the condemnation and the punishment, did a question, a
doubt arise in his heart? Being faced with death, a death by fire on a gridiron,
who would not be filled with paralyzing fear, who would not be tempted to give in
– worship the emperor with a little incense?

But this deacon, soon to be a martyr, was not about to surrender his conviction,
his love of the Lord and His people, especially the poor. He embraced his death
of excruciating pain because the Word of God had overtaken his heart, had
totally captivated his soul.

Did you ever wonder if you were faced with such a choice that would mean by
remaining faithful to the Lord torture and death or by denying belief being set
free – what would you choose? I believe we would want to remain faithful…but
then, faced with the reality of unbearable pain – who knows? There were many
like St. Lawrence and there were many who were not!

Each day in our journey of conversion of heart we are faced with choosing
between fire and self – the fire is the consuming love of God – the merciful love
that purifies, captivates, recreates, and choosing self – a very limited, imperfect
world and ultimately, a very poor choice.

The Book of Sirach proclaims the right choice for us: “Let us fall into the hands
of the Lord and not into the hands of men. For equal to His majesty is the mercy
He shows.” ( 2:18)