Tuesday, 10 August 2021 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great feast of one of the Church’s most renowned saints, namely St. Lawrence the Deacon, also known as St. Lawrence of Rome. He was a most courageous servant of God and His Church, as he dedicated his life and efforts to serve the Lord in everything, even to the very end. He died a martyr in defending his faith and his Church, in showing the world and even those who oppressed the Church, what being Christians is all about.

St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Diocese of Rome, which means that he served directly under the Pope, the Vicar of Christ and the Bishop of Rome, the leader of the Universal Church. And as a deacon, he assisted in the important matters of the Church, which is made even more important due to the position of Rome as the Apostolic See and the Heart of the entire Christendom. St. Lawrence was in charge of works and efforts that are done by the Cardinals and the heads of the Roman Curia today, in managing the affairs of the Church, both in Rome and in relations to the wider, Universal Church.

St. Lawrence was the assistant of Pope St. Sixtus II, another great saint of the Church whose feast day we have celebrated just a few days ago, as their martyrdom happened just within moments of each other, with both persecuted and martyred under the rule of the Roman Emperor Valerian. St. Lawrence was the first among the seven deacons of the Church of Rome, and therefore sometimes is known as the Archdeacon of Rome. He was in charge of the Church treasury and the distribution of those goods to the Christian communities, especially to the poor.

At that time, persecution against the Church, Christians and their leaders were being ramped up and intensified, as the Emperor ordered the Church leaders and members of the faithful to be arrested and their properties and wealth seized for the state. And the Emperor also then released an order stating that all the leaders of the Church, the bishops, priests and deacons to be killed immediately even without trial. Pope St. Sixtus II was one of those who fell victim to this intensified persecution, as he was seized during the liturgical celebrations and then immediately executed.

The Roman prefect of the city demanded St. Lawrence, who was in charge of the Church treasury to surrender all the properties and wealth of the Church to the Roman state as per the law decreed by the Emperor. In order to avoid this, St. Lawrence quickly arranged to distribute all the wealth and properties of the Church under his care to the poor and destitute in particular while requesting for three days time so that he would be able to complete the distribution of all the goods and the properties.

When the prefect demanded to get the Church properties, St. Lawrence famously brought the poor and the destitute, the least and last among the society and showed them before the prefect, and said that those were the treasures of the Church. This angered the prefect so much that he ordered the execution of St. Lawrence, who was martyred by burning with gridirons. He defended his faith to the very end, and showed Christian charity and love to those who need them the most, even in the midst of bitter sufferings and persecutions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is in essence what we have also heard in our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, as the Apostle reminded them that all those who have done good deeds and obeyed the Lord’s Law and commandments will be blessed by the Lord and will be righteous and worthy, of the Lord’s grace and blessings. We are all called to do our best, in giving ourselves for the cause of the Lord, and to give ourselves to care for our fellow brethren, to show love, empathy and compassion for each other.

Today we are all also called to remember the Lord’s words in our Gospel passage today, as we heard Him speaking to His disciples reminding them that those who follow Him, they ought to serve Him and commit themselves to Him, and dedicate their hearts and minds wholly to Him. They should also die to themselves, which means that they ought to let go of their pride and ego, their desires and wishes, and their attachments to worldly pleasures and corruptions. And they should be selfless rather than selfish, to empty themselves from the excesses of the world.

That was exactly what St. Lawrence had done in his life and ministry, brothers and sisters in Christ, as he gave himself totally and completely to the Lord and to His people, finding joy and comfort in the true treasures of the Church, that is the people of God, of every races and nations, even the poor, the destitute, the last and the least in the community, all have a place in God’s kingdom. And all of us should indeed aspire to follow in the footsteps of this great servant of God, our holy predecessor, by emulating his life and examples in our own lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life and give us the strength and courage to live our lives with faith, with each and every moments, so that we may draw ever closer to Him, and that we may be ever more faithful and committed to Him. May God bless us all in our every good endeavours and efforts, and may St. Lawrence intercede for us all, sinners in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 12 : 24-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life.”

“Whoever wants to serve Me, let him follow Me; and wherever I am, there shall My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”

Tuesday, 10 August 2021 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in YHVH. His heart is confident; he need not fear; he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 9 : 6-10

Remember : the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.

Scripture says : He distributed, He gave to the poor, His good works last forever. God, Who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works.

Monday, 10 August 2020 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of St. Lawrence, Holy Deacon and Martyr of the Church, as one of the most renowned saints of the early Church. St. Lawrence was one of the deacons of Rome and as such was greatly involved in the many important decisions and works in the very heart and centre of Christendom, the Church of Rome, the seat of the Vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter.

And on this day whatever we have heard from the Scriptures are essentially what we have seen from the lives and examples of St. Lawrence, who in his capacity as one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome, laboured tirelessly day and night in taking care of the needs of the people and ministering to the faithful, especially to those who are weak and poor, those who are less fortunate and needy. As the Archdeacon of Rome, despite his very important position, St. Lawrence remained humble and committed to his ministry.

At that time, the Church was going through a particularly tough and difficult persecution under the reign of the Roman Emperor Valerian who imposed strict and harsh measures against Christians, persecuting them, arresting many among them and even to the extent of making by the norms of Roman law of the seizing of the properties of those convicted by the state of crimes and penalties in order to condemn many among the Christians, from all walks of the society, and seize their belongings and assets.

As the Church did hold a considerable asset in its constant efforts to reach out and take care of those who are suffering, poor and less fortunate in the community, it quickly became a target by those who sought to gain the wealth and possessions of the Church for their own. The Emperor published a decree against the Church and its leadership, condemning all of the bishops, priests and deacons to death and that all of them were to be summarily executed, without trial.

Pope St. Sixtus II, the then Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ was among the first to suffer from the bitter rounds of persecutions, as he was captured and arrested as he was celebrating the Holy Mass at the catacombs, and was immediately put to death by execution soon after. More and more bishops, priests, deacons and and many among the laity would come to suffer in the coming days, and eventually, as it was evident that the authorities would move to confiscate and gain the possessions of the Church, St. Lawrence as the Archdeacon and therefore the one in charge of the management and the distribution of the properties of the Church quickly acted to distribute the properties and disposable materials to the poor and those who need them so as to prevent them from falling into the wicked hands of those who sought to claim them for their own benefits.

St. Lawrence was confronted by the prefect, who demanded the surrender of all the Church properties and its material wealth. And in response, he gathered all the infirm, the sick and all those who were poor and destitute, and presented all of them before the Roman prefect as the true wealth of the Church. This further infuriated the prefect and St. Lawrence was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually was martyred by being roasted alive on a gridiron, which was made even hotter by the anger of the prefects over St. Lawrence’s defiance, which if we remember the Old Testament, was also what happened to the three righteous compatriots of Daniel who refused to bow down to king Nebuchadnezzar and his false golden idol.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Lawrence showed us all the true meaning of Christian calling and virtue, which each and every one of us should also emulate in our own lives. St. Paul in our first reading today in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth spoke of the great wonders awaiting all those who had been generous in giving and charity, in love and compassion towards the poor and the needy. St. Lawrence showed us the examples of these by his great generosity and love, genuine concern for the poor and those who need help in the community.

And St. Lawrence also gave generously to the Lord, his faith and dedication, spending his time and effort to serve the Lord and giving everything to help the Church and the faithful. He showed us all what true Christian life and charism is all about, to give generously from ourselves to one another, to love tenderly and care with compassionate hearts and minds, and to reach out to help those who are in need, and to be faithful in all times and situations, even when things may be challenging and difficult for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord said to all of us through His disciples, in our Gospel today, “Unless a grain of wheat falls onto the ground and dies, it remains just as a seed, but if it dies, it produces much fruits.” These represent what we need to do in order to follow the Lord’s will and commandments, and this is by dying to our greed and desires, our pride and ego, all the things that led us to selfishness and to close ourselves up against God and against our fellow men.

The Lord called us all to follow Him, and following Him means that we should shed from ourselves our personal agenda and desires, our ambitions and all the things that had led us astray all these while. And let us all follow Him just as St. Lawrence the Deacon and Martyr had done, he who gave his whole life for the service of the Lord and His Church. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves in this way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to reach out to the needy and the less fortunate in our midst, in our community, especially during these difficult times and moments?

Let us all be inspired to walk in the path set before us by the saints, principally St. Lawrence whose memory we remember today. And let us all realise that through our generosity, faith and love, God will certainly bless us all and glorify us, and all that we do, all of these shall be counted for us on the day of judgment. Let us all be beacons of God’s hope and light in our communities, among our friends and loved ones and also among all those whom we encounter daily in life. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 10 August 2020 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 12 : 24-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life.”

“Whoever wants to serve Me, let him follow Me; and wherever I am, there shall My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”

Monday, 10 August 2020 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in YHVH. His heart is confident; he need not fear; he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Monday, 10 August 2020 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 9 : 6-10

Remember : the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.

Scripture says : He distributed, He gave to the poor, His good works last forever. God, Who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works.