SAINT LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR (FEAST)
Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain.
When a seed is planted, it doesn’t just grow bigger and stronger. It actually disintegrates and gives way to a whole new plant filled with amazing potential. It may seem illogical, but that’s exactly what happens.
Similarly, by likening himself to a dying grain of wheat buried in the ground, Jesus makes it clear that his mission isn’t to become stronger; it’s to give up his life so that people everywhere could be born to new life and bear great fruit. It can be easy, however, to lose sight of this most critical truth.
Jesus was a profound teacher, but we don’t become like him simply by following his teaching on our own strength. And though he works miracles and healings, we do not bear his full likeness by experiencing some kind of healing. Similarly, practicing Christian morality leads to tremendous freedom and happiness, but adopting Christian morals does not completely imprint Christ on our souls.
No, Jesus’ life comes to us ultimately through his greatest act of love: his death on the cross. St. Lawrence, whose feast we are celebrating today, is a moving example of this truth. A deacon in Rome in the third century, Lawrence lived during a time of great persecution. When an agent for the emperor demanded that Lawrence hand over all the treasures of the Church, Lawrence gathered all the poor and hungry people the Church was serving and presented them. “These are the treasures of the Church,” he told the prefect. For this act of humble defiance, Lawrence was put to death.
Lawrence knew his life was meant to be poured out for the people around him, and he lived that out to the very end.
Now, we don’t have to die physically to live out this calling. We can follow Lawrence’s example by asking the Spirit to help us put other people’s needs ahead of our own. We can ask him to make us into servants just as Lawrence was—and just as Jesus was.
“Holy Spirit, help me to bear fruit not just for myself but for the whole Church.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-10
Psalm 112:1-2, 5-9