Memorial of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr
(II Corinthians 9:6-10; John12:24-26)
The stories about St. Lawrence are so fascinating that one may forget about the sacrifice he made. It is well known how he defied the emperor by presenting the poor of Rome as the jewels of the Church. Also, perhaps more famous, is the anecdote of how he ridiculed death itself by telling his executioner that he was grilled enough on one side and should be turned over.
No doubt, however, Lawrence felt deeply the imminent loss of life. He might have left behind a wife and family with no sure sense of security. Wouldn’t he also have wondered what if anything lay on the other side of the abyss? More certainly, Lawrence took to heart St. Paul’s words calling death “the last enemy.” Perhaps strength of character enabled him to amuse others in the face of death. But he was not a lunatic and likely still found the prospect of death wrenching. It is also probable that faith saved him from the terror of it all.
In the gospel Jesus assures those who like himself are called to give their lives in testimony of God’s love that they do not die in vain. When we live and, if necessary, die in demonstration of God’s supreme blessing in Jesus, then we need not worry. Indeed, we can face death with a modicum of peace. The same Jesus will not only raise us from the dead but will cause our death to bring hope to others in similarly perilous situations.