Wednesday, 10 August 2016 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of a major figure in the Church, namely the feast of the holy saint and martyr, St. Lawrence the Deacon, the deacon of Rome and one of its greatest and most exemplary saints. He is an example and inspiration to us, based on how he had lived, how he had carried through the mission which Christ had entrusted him with, and how he faced death with courage and hope.

St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons serving the holy city of Rome under the Pontificate of Pope St. Sixtus II, with whom he eventually was martyred under the particularly vicious persecution of all Christians by the Roman Emperor Valerian. And in that position, as the leader of the seven deacons of Rome or the Archdeacon of Rome, he was entrusted with the care and the management of the Church’s effort and assignment to the poor, the sick and the less privileged.

And he worked hard to fulfil that assignment, caring for the least of the society, all those who have no food to eat and no one to love them. When the Emperor called for the execution of all the faithful and their leaders, he also called for the confiscation of all the properties of the Church, to be taken up into the Empire’s treasury. And St. Lawrence, knowing that they would also take away all those that had been set aside for the poor, gave all the wealth to the poor as fast as he could so that the Emperor and his forces would not be able to seize them.

In the end, defiant and adamant towards the end, he refused to give in to the Emperor and his demands, and when forced to reveal where the treasures of the Church to be seized, he showed the poor, the sick and the dying as the true treasures of the Church, saying defiantly that they all are far richer and wealthier than the Emperor and the whole state would ever be. And thus, he met his end, his death with pride and complete faith in the Lord.

And it is that steadfast faith in the Lord which all of us should emulate as well. At a time when it is difficult for us to remain steady in faith and commit ourselves to the Lord, we should hold fast to the teachings of the Church and believe wholeheartedly, knowing how to trust the Lord with all our heart, for it is He alone Who will ever be faithful, and He will guard us all and bless us all.

And we have to heed what is always said, that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians. This came directly from the saying of Jesus in today’s Gospel, that unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will not rise up and germinate into a new wheat plant, but remain a seed that is without any use. This is a reminder of Christ’s own mission to save us mankind, that by dying for us, He raised us up into the life everlasting prepared for us, but at the same time, it reminds us of the challenges and difficulties that will be ours to bear if we choose to follow the Lord.

Thus, being a Christian is not easy, brothers and sisters in Christ. It requires commitment, dedication and hard work. If we think that being a Christian does not entail much, or is easy and manageable, then perhaps we have not been truly devoted to the Lord at all, or that our faith in Him is lukewarm, and we ignore whatever opportunities that had been presented to us, to act as how Christians should act.

It means also that all of us today have that same mission which our Lord had given to His Apostles, and we need to embrace that mission with zeal and courage, knowing that it is only through us and through our works that we may save our brethren, especially those who are still lost to the Lord and those who still live in the darkness of sin and evil.

St. Lawrence and the many other saints and martyrs of the Faith have been our inspiration because they showed us how to live as true Christians, not scared or intimidated in the face of darkness. Instead, they went forward and faced those who refused to believe in the Lord and persecuted them, and showed to all what it meant to be a follower of God, inspiring legions and many more others who saw what they have done and became a believer as well.

Thus, it is also a calling for us all to also be exemplary in our deeds, that all who see us will know that we belong to the Lord, and they too may believe in Him through us, and our reward at the end of days will be great and bountiful. May God help us in this endeavour and bless us every day of our lives. Amen.

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