Homilette for Monday, August 10, 2009

Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

(II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 12:2-26)

Although not much is known about St. Lawrence’s life, he remains a popular saint. Probably his name appearing in the Roman Canon has contributed to his being remembered. Also, his name rings a bell in the consciousness of some because of the famous “night of San Lorenzo” (the night of August 10) when skies over Italy, at least, are ripe for meteor showers. Many as well have been charmed by the humor of Lawrence related in two stories surrounding his martyrdom.

Lawrence was a deacon in the Church of Rome with charge over the communal treasury. When he was brought before the authorities during the Valerian persecution (ca. 250), he was told to hand over the church’s treasures. Lawrence then gathered together the poor of the city and brought them to the Roman prefect announcing, “These are the church’s treasures.” The quip evidently won for Lawrence a martyr’s death by being roasted alive. The story goes that during this gruesome ordeal, Lawrence kept his sense of humor. After being tortured awhile, he reportedly told his executioners that they might turn him over because he was done on one side.

Humor was for Lawrence a virtue that we might emulate. He seemed to see everything – wealth and even his own physical welfare – as of little value compared with the eternal life won for us by the Savior.