Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr
(II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 12:24-26)
The Church’s calendar is so filled with memorials for the early martyrs that some may think there were more in antiquity than today. But they would be mistaken. More people die because of their belief in Christ now than ever. The Christians who were slaughtered by ISIS soldiers a few years provide all too real evidence that blood continues to flow for Christ.
Today’s gospel assures that martyrs do not die in vain. In the parable of the grain of wheat Jesus compares a martyr with a seed. Just as the grain must die if it is to bring about an abundance of grains to eat, so must there be martyrs to attract the multitudes to Christ. For this reason the Church has claimed, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”
Today we celebrate one of the most illustrious Roman martyrs. Lawrence was a deacon in charge of the Church’s treasury. It is said that when the imperial authorities came searching for the Church’s treasures, Lawrence led them to the poor whom the Church has always fed. The authorities lost no time in punishing this act of defiance. We should emulate Lawrence in both ways indicated here. We should testify to the Church’s option for the poor. And we should readily make sacrifices for the Lord.