Deacon and martyr Lawrence

Lawrence, as you know, was a deacon at Rome.
There he distributed the sacred Blood of Christ;
there he shed his own blood for the sake of Christ.
Saint Augustine, Sermon 304

Today the Church celebrates the deacon Lawrence who was martyred in August 258.

As deacon he was in charge of the church’s treasury and the distribution of alms to the poor. According to one story, seeing that the persecution was worsening, Lawrence distributed what he had on hand to the poor and, when more money was needed, he sold some of the church’s goods.

After killing II Pope Sixtus and six other deacons of Rome, the prefect of Rome told him to hand over the church’s goods. Three days later Lawrence assembled the poor, the widows, and the orphans and presented them to the prefect. “”Here is the wealth of the church – the poor.”

The prefect was not happy with this and had Lawrence killed.

Lawrence is for me an example of the deacon who lived out his commitment at the altar by sharing with the poor and by shedding his blood in witness to the Christ who became poor for our sake.

As I contemplate the possibility of being ordained a permanent deacon, I need to keep this in mind.

Am I committed to Christ Jesus who shed his blood for all?

Am I committed to the poor, the suffering face of Christ in this world?

Am I willing to die to myself and, if called upon, give my life for Christ?

For this I pray.

But what helps me to see what this might mean for me today in Central America, I recall the words of Blessed Monseñor Oscar Romero in a reflection on April 1, 1979, on the Gospel which is also used for today’s feast, John 12: 24-26:

“Those who, in the biblical phrase, would save their lives —
that is, those who want to get along,
who don’t want commitments,
who want to stay outside what demands the involvement of all of us —
they will lose their lives.
What a terrible thing to have lived quite comfortably,
with no suffering, not getting involved in problems,
quite tranquil, quite settled,
with good connections — politically, economically, socially —
lacking nothing, having everything.
To what good?
They will lose their lives.
But those who for love of Me uproot themselves
and accompany the poor in their suffering
and become incarnated and feel as their own the pain and the abuse —
they will secure their lives,
because my Father will reward them.”
Brothers and sisters, God’s word calls us to this today.
Let me tell you with all the conviction I can muster:
it is worthwhile to be a Christian.
To each of us Christ is saying:
If you want your life and mission to be fruitful like mine, do as I do.
Be converted into a seed that lets itself be buried.
Let yourself be killed. Do not be afraid.
Those who shun suffering will remain alone.
No one is more alone than the selfish.
But if you give your life out of love for others, as I give mine for all,
you will reap a great harvest.
You will have the deepest satisfaction.
Do not fear death threats; the Lord goes with you.

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