Liturgical Colour : Red
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we are urged by none other than our Lord, that we should invest and go to work, in order to make use the gifts that God had given us through the Holy Spirit that He had planted in each one of us the faithful ones in God. He had given us much gifts, abilities, and power, through the Spirit, which if we utilise them, we will truly be able to make a great difference in ourselves, in our neighbours, our fellow men, and in our society, through those gifts given to us.
Yes, brothers and sisters, within us all is the Spirit that God had given us when we were baptised, and when we were confirmed in our faith, given with the Holy Spirit that strengthens and nurtures. We have been given with the seeds of faith, hope, and love, as well as compassion, kindness, care, patience, and devotion, that all of us ought to utilise and nurture in our hearts, as well as in our own communities, that they will not remain just a seed, but will germinate and grow to become healthy and fruitful.
The love that is in us will never grow if we just keep it within ourselves, and the other gifts of the Spirit will also just languish in us and be wasted, if we keep them unused and sealed within our hearts. In order to let them grow and prosper, effort is required, and not just any effort, but strong, dedicated and purposeful effort, with strong contribution from our side, and a significant investment of our attention and our sweat. We do not gain anything from slacking up or resting.
Just like farmers, brothers and sisters, the farmers who worked hard day and night, ploughing the land, planting the seeds, and putting manure or fertilisers on the land, that the seeds will be provided with enough nutrients and therefore can grow to healthy and strong plants, that will in the future bear much fruits. The farmers cared for their plants with love, and give them their full attention, that they grow big and laden with much flowers and therefore, much fruits.
The fruits that are juicy and sweet cannot be born, if the plants are not taken care of carefully and with great dedication, and neither can they be produced, if the farmers have slackened off in their works, and let the plants to their own in growing up. They carefully removed the weeds and the pests, preventing them from eating up the fruits and threatening the health and survival of the plants. In the end, they reaped much fruits, an abundant and bountiful harvest, the sweet products of harvest, which bring them happiness and joy.
That is how, brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also do for the seeds of faith, love, and hope planted by the Lord, the Sower, in each of us, within our hearts. These seeds need our attention, our dedication, and our great effort, in order to grow, bloom, and prosper. As I have mentioned, the seeds need good soil and manure or fertiliser, to ensure that they have the right nutrients and sufficient ones in order to grow properly into healthy and vibrant plants. So, how do we then ensure this to what the Spirit had planted in us? That is faith, hope, and love?
It is by our actions, our deeds, and our words, that we contribute to the growth of the gifts of the Lord within us. How we act and what we say, the words that we utter, determine the growth, the health, and the survival of the ‘plants’ in us, that is what God had given all of us, the gifts, the talents, and skills we have been endowed with in our lives. Each of us do have our own unique skills and talents, but none of these will be useful nor beneficial if we do not practice them and use them.
We give the nutrients and fertilisers to these gifts, by our actions and our words that reflect the goodness that is the Lord, or in short, by following the Lord and His laws, all of His commandments, just as Christ had told His disciples in the Gospel reading today. We have to made evident the commandments of the Lord in our own lives, through our acts of love, words that promote love, and our loving embrace for one another, for our brothers and sisters especially those who are rejected and without love.
It will not be easy, and our path will be littered with dangers and threats, but our God will walk with us through all these obstacles, and if we remain strong in our faith and in our bond and dedication to Him, we will make it through, and at the end, lies the reward, the eternal reward of everlasting life in the glory of heaven, which God had reserved for His holy saints, the people who had persevered through fire and through the test of life, and had been found worthy of God’s Kingdom.
Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of a great saint, that is St. Lawrence, a deacon of the early Church and a martyr of the faith. He was also known as St. Lawrence of Rome because he was one of the seven deacons serving the Diocese of Rome under the other great saint Pope St. Xystus II (Sixtus II) whose feast day we had just celebrated a few days ago. He met his martyrdom almost at the same time with the saintly Pope during the height of the persecution of Christians under Emperor Valerian in the mid-third century after the birth of Christ.
St. Lawrence was the disciple of Pope St. Xystus II and helped him in the governance of the Church in the times of difficulty, with extreme persecution and hunts against the Christians by the pagan Roman Emperor and the entire Roman military at the time. He helped to manage the Church and the Diocese of Rome in the midst of that difficult times, and he bravely defended the faith and the Church after the death of its leader the Pope in martyrdom, by standing up to the Roman authorities and proclaiming the sanctity of the Church and the greatness of God.
St. Lawrence was asked by the prefects of Rome after the martyrdom of Pope St. Xystus II to gather the wealth of the church, because of a law that required all Christians and others to surrender their wealth to the church if convicted of any act of treason to the state, which was exactly the situation given to St. Lawrence, in that he was to gather the riches of the Church to be confiscated by the state. He gathered the poor people of God, and bravely proclaimed to the prefects, that those are the wealth of the Church, its true wealth, and in all its glory, the Church is even richer than the Emperor himself.
In such courage of defending his faith, his Church, and his God, St. Lawrence brought upon him the wrath of the Emperor and he was martyred. But as we all know, brothers and sisters in Christ, to all of us who believe in Christ and become a part of the Church, accepting our Lord and God and our Saviour, death has no power over us, and indeed, St. Lawrence was raised in glory to the heavenly kingdom of our God, as one of the holy men and women who along with the angels praise the Lord and intercede for our sake on earth.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us follow in the footsteps of St. Lawrence, the great deacon and martyr, and in all the holy saints and martyrs of the Lord, that we will make use of the gifts and talents God had given to all of us, that we will nurture it through love and love in our actions and our words, that the love in us will grow and grow to encompass everyone, every one of God’s children, our brothers and sisters. In doing that, we follow Christ, His laws and commandments, and at the end of time, He will raise us up, and be given our reward of eternal life with Him in heaven. May God bless us always and remain us at all times. Amen.