Friday, 10 August 2018 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us that we need to do good in our lives and be generous in our giving towards one another, especially to those who are less fortunate and less privileged. And He said this pointing out at His own examples, in how He has loved us all generously with constancy even when we mankind have not been consistent in our faith and love towards Him.

In the first reading today, that is the gist of what St. Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth. He reminded them of the Lord Who gives each and every one of us good blessings and graces, that all of us have enough for ourselves, and are able to fend for ourselves. Now, then, surely we will come to wonder, why is it that in this world there are still sufferings and people who had not enough to survive and live, while there are others who are enjoying in great excess of wealth and all?

It is not because the Lord is unfair in His treatment to us, or that He is biased in His love for each one of us. Each and every one of us, regardless of our origins, our background, our cultural, linguistic, national differences and our appearances, physical and mental talents and abilities, and even those with disabilities, all are equally beloved by the Lord without bias and prejudice. Suffering comes about because of the abuse of freedom by God’s people, who chose to act unjustly towards one another.

And in the Gospel today, the Lord Jesus used a parable to explain this matter to the people, by comparing it with the grain of wheat that falls on the ground and die, and by that action, creating many more new life that came about from that death. This is a parable that foreshadows the moment of the Lord’s own Passion, suffering, death and resurrection, when He died on the cross in order to save all of us mankind.

That is the method by which wheat germinates into new wheat plant, such that even a single wheat grain is able to grow into a large new wheat plant that can generate many more wheat grains in turn. This signifies Christ’s willingness to die, so that by the breaking and the sharing of His Body, all of us who share in His Body and Blood may receive a share in the eternity of glory and life with God.

Today, these Scripture readings also have an additional significance as today we celebrate the Feast of St. Lawrence, holy deacon and martyr of the Church. St. Lawrence was one of the pious and dedicated deacons of the Church of Rome, a position of honour and yet filled with great challenges and dangers during the time of great persecutions of the Church by the Roman Emperors, at that time the Emperor Valerian.

St. Lawrence ministered to the Church and to the faithful in the city of Rome and he had to endure harsh persecution and avoiding detection by the authorities while serving the needs of the faithful and the poor among them. Eventually, he was arrested along with several other leading members of the Church, tortured and condemned to death when he refused to recant his faith and abandon his God.

Through the blood of his martyrdom, St. Lawrence and his companions showed all of us great inspirations of faith, which inspired many other faithful to be courageous in their own faith. In fact, many more came to believe in the Lord, having been inspired by the great example of the holy martyrs. Thus the saying, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

Surely they would have also be tempted to give up their faith by the enticement of worldly guarantees and security of power, glory, wealth, possessions and material goods. Many of the martyrs were offered positions of power and worldly riches if only they would abandon their Lord and their faith, and worship the pagan gods of the Romans. Similar instances have also been recorded for many other occasions of martyrdom.

But they remained true to their faith and devoted themselves to God to the very end. God blessed them and kept them in His grace, and gave them the crown of glory promised to all those who have kept the faith and persevered to the very end. Now, all of us are called to follow their examples and strive to do our best to live our lives as good Christians, who obey the will of God and walk in the truth of God.

May the Lord continue to bless us and all of our endeavours, and may He strengthen us and empower us to live ever more faithfully, amidst the challenges and trials we may face, inspiring us to live by the examples of the holy saints and martyrs, particularly that of St. Lawrence, holy deacon and martyr. May the Lord be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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