Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

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

Of all the martyrs of the early Church, St. Lawrence is one of the most celebrated. As much as his bravery in the face of death, his sense of humor has captured the popular imagination.

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 of the mid third century, he was told to hand over the Church’s treasures. Lawrence then gathered the poor of the city and brought them to the Roman prefect announcing, “These are the Church’s treasures.” The quip gained for Lawrence a martyr’s death by burning. The story goes that during the gruesome ordeal, Lawrence maintained his sense of humor. After being skewered and fixed over a flame for a while, he reportedly told his executioners that they could turn him over because he was done on one side.

It is a virtue to emulate Lawrence’s humor. It is not that we should strive to become practical jokesters but, like him, we want to value everything – wealth and even health – as paltry compared with the eternal life won for us by the Savior.