Alleluia: Unless …

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
August 10, 2022

Today’s Readings

St. Lawrence
Saint Lawrence. Mosaic from the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence who is noted for his love for those who were poor. Legend has it that Lawrence was demanded, before his martyrdom, to turn over the Church’s riches to the emperor Valerian. Instead, he distributed all the resources among the poor. Lawrence then gathered all these people, presenting them before Valerian with these words:

Behold in these poor persons 
the treasures which I promised to show you –
these are the true treasures of the Church.

Lawrence was likely inspired by readings like today’s. In Corinthians, Paul encourages us to be cheerful givers. He says this delights God, the Giver of Divine Abundance, whom we are imitating.

In our reading from John, Jesus says that only in dying to ourselves do we live – the ultimate generosity. He says that only by doing this can we truly follow him.

While these readings are clear and simple, they are so profound that we can hardly take in their message. What they ask of us is daunting! The encouragement Jesus gives us to respond to his challenge is this:

The Father will honor whoever serves me.

St. Lawrence believed and lived this promise. What about us?

Poetry: St. Laurence – Joyce Kilmer

Within the broken Vatican 
The murdered Pope is lying dead. 
The soldiers of Valerian 
Their evil hands are wet and red. 
Unarmed, unmoved, St. Laurence waits, 
His cassock is his only mail. 
The troops of Hell have burst the gates, 
But Christ is Lord, He shall prevail. 
They have encompassed him with steel, 
They spit upon his gentle face, 
He smiles and bleeds, nor will reveal 
The Church's hidden treasure-place. 
Ah, faithful steward, worthy knight, 
Well hast thou done. Behold thy fee! 
Since thou hast fought the goodly fight 
A martyr's death is fixed for thee. 
St. Laurence, pray for us to bear 
The faith which glorifies thy name. 
St. Laurence, pray for us to share 
The wounds of Love's consuming flame.

Music: Before the Bread – Elizabeth Alexander

We all want our lives to be full and complete – to be “bread”. But there are many steps before the grain of wheat becomes bread, as captured in this elegant acapella canon.

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