. . . without sadness or compulsion.

Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Feast)

“I’m done on this side; turn me over!”   St. Lawrence cheerfully offered this quip to the soldiers as he was being grilled to death over hot coals.   You can imagine the soldiers’ reaction as they watched the way that Lawrence was dying.   This man was willfully accepting this agonizing death—and joking about it?

The situation was no laughing matter, of course. After the Roman Emperor Valerian had Pope Sixtus II beheaded, the prefect of Rome told Lawrence—Rome’s archdeacon—that he would spare his life if he handed over the Church’s treasures.   Lawrence agreed, but instead of gathering all the money together, he gave it to the poor.   When the prefect asked where the Church’s treasures were, Lawrence pointed to the people and said,  “These are the Church’s treasures!”   That sealed his fate.

St. Lawrence’s example has encouraged many people over the centuries.   One of the lessons he taught us is that choosing humor and joy, even during hardship, helps people see the light of Christ in us.

Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness, called joy and a sense of humor one of the signs of holiness especially needed today.   Christian joy stands in marked contrast to the world’s tendency to seek happiness in material things.   Such things might offer “occasional and passing pleasures, but not joy,” he wrote.   Christian joy also combats the tendency toward individualism.   Joy lived in communion, Francis said, “shares and is shared.”   It “increases our capacity for joy, since it makes us capable of rejoicing in the good of others” (128).

Of course, we all feel sad at times, but the joy of the Lord goes deeper than any transitory emotion.   It’s rooted, Pope Francis said, in “our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (125).

However you’ve been feeling lately, make sure you rejoice in the Lord today.   Ask him to show you his love, and then celebrate it.   As you go about your day, recall from time to time that God infinitely loves you.   Then let the joy within you bubble up to the surface for all the world to see!

“St. Lawrence, pray for me to be joyful and to share my joy with others.”

Psalm 112:1-2, 5-9
John 12:24-26

Word Among Us