Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we gather together as the Church of God, we celebrate together the glorious memory of St. Lawrence, also known as St. Lawrence of Rome, one of the great saints of the Church. St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons appointed for the Diocese of Rome in assisting the Pope in the governance and management of the Church. He was a truly courageous and faithful servant of God, and he dedicated himself to God even amidst the hardships and persecutions that he and the Church had to face back then.

St. Lawrence was born in Valencia, the province of Hispania in the Roman Empire, in what is the present day Spain. He encountered another saint of the Church, Pope St. Sixtus II, who happened to be in Hispania, and developed a good relationship that eventually went on to Rome, where Pope St. Sixtus II was eventually elected as Pope and successor of St. Peter, while the trusted St. Lawrence was appointed by the new Pope as the first of the seven deacons of the Diocese of Rome, that made him well known as the Archdeacon of Rome as one of his titles. He was entrusted with the treasuries of the Church and the care of the poor and the needy in Rome.

At that time, the Church especially in Rome was under great persecution and threat from the Roman government and state apparatus, as the Emperor Valerian declared the immediate persecution and execution of all Christian bishops, priests and deacons, who were arrested in great numbers, persecuted and martyred. Pope St. Sixtus II was among those who had been put to arrest and was eventually martyred, and soon enough, the state began to seek the riches and treasures of the Church, which was under the management of St. Lawrence as the Archdeacon of Rome.

Knowing that the authorities would soon look for him, arrest him and gain the treasury of the Church which had been meant for the poor and the needy, St. Lawrence quickly distributed the wealth and property of the Church to the poor and the needy in Rome to prevent the authorities from seizing those for their own selfish use. Hence, when the authorities came to force St. Lawrence to show them the treasures of the Church, he brought forth all the poor and the needy under the care of the Church, presenting them to the Roman prefect that those were the true treasures of the Church.

St. Lawrence was arrested and because the Roman prefect was also greatly angered by the snub which St. Lawrence delivered with the trick that he used to save the treasures of the Church from appropriation, the saint was made to suffer greatly from torture and was put on a hot gridiron, heated with a blazing furnace, on which he was martyred, defending his faith in the Lord with dedication right to the very end, showing us all what it truly means to be faithful to God and to love Him with all our heart and strength. The examples showed by St. Lawrence should serve to strengthen us in our own faith so that we may strive to live our lives ever more in tune with God and His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples shown and set by St. Lawrence should inspire us all to do more for the sake of our fellow brothers and sisters, as how the saint and martyr chose to suffer and to endure trials rather than to betray the works and responsibilities entrusted to him. St. Lawrence showed us that as Christians, each and every one of us have the calling and the mission to reach out to our brethren and to the world, to stand up for our faith and to be courageous in living our faith through our lives. Unless we do so, we cannot be truly considered as Christians.

Today, as we listened to these words from the Scriptures telling us to be generous in giving and committing our lives to God’s will, and reminded by the examples shown by St. Lawrence, holy martyr and deacon, let us all therefore discern how we can be better disciples of the Lord, in being more proactive in living our faith and in being more committed to the works of charity and the many other efforts and outreach of the Church to our community and to all around us who are in need and in which we are in the perfect position to help them. Let us all not ignore their plight and need, and let us be moved to action, and be committed to walk in the same path that the saints, particularly that of St. Lawrence, has shown us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us on our journey of life. May God bless our every good works and endeavours so that we may always glorify Him by our every actions and that we may be inspiration for one another just as the saints like St. Lawrence had done for us. St. Lawrence, holy servant of God and courageous martyr of the Faith, pray for us all! Amen.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : 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.”

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : 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.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : 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.

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.

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.

Friday, 10 August 2018 : 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.”