Alleluia: Unless …

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

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081022.cfm

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.

Feast of Saint Lawrence

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112, particularly chosen for the Feast of St. Lawrence

Blessed the one who fears the LORD,
    who greatly delights in God’s commands.
That one’s posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
    the upright generation shall be blessed.
Well for the one who is gracious and lends,
    who conducts all affairs with justice;
That person shall never be moved;
    the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.

After the martyrdom of Pope Sixtus II in 258 AD, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. St. Ambrose is the earliest source for the narrative that Lawrence asked for three days to gather the wealth. He worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the indigent as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to deliver the treasures of the Church he presented the indigent, the crippled, the blind, and the suffering, and declared that these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.” This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom.

Wikipedia

There are many lessons for us in the life of St. Lawrence. The most striking for me is his gift for seeing the most vulnerable people as the Church’s greatest treasures.

Praying Psalm 112 today, we might ask God to deepen that gift of sublime generosity which imitates God’s own Mercy to us:

Lavishly they give to the poor, 
    Their generosity shall endure forever;
    Their name shall be exalted in glory.


Poetry: Khalil Gibran- On Giving

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. 
For what are your possessions but things you keep 
and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring 
to the over-prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand 
as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself? 
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, 
the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have–
and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire 
makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, 
and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, 
nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.

Through the hands of such as these God speaks, 
and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, 
but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;

And to the open-handed 
the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving 
may be yours and not your inheritors’.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, 
is worthy of all else from you.

And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life 
deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, 
than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, 
nay the charity, of receiving?

And who are you that the poor should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, 
that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life 
while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers… and you are all receivers… 
assume no weight of gratitude, 
lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity 
who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.

Music: God Loves a Cheerful Giver – Steve Green has fun with the kids. I hope you do too!🤗

Unless…

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

August 10, 2019

Click here for readings

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

Today, in 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.

John12_24 grain wheat

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?

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.