Friday, August 10, 2018

"There is one and only one possible road to real, true and lasting joy: selfless love.”

Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ's love in your life today? - Billy Graham: (1918 – 2018: was an American evangelical Christian preacher)

Gospel text: (JN 12:24-26)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."

When I was a child, St. Lawrence loomed prominently in my spiritual imagination. Much of this stemmed from my father who would often repeat the martyrdom account of St. Lawrence being roasted on coals, cheerfully telling his torturers, “It is well-done. Turn me over!” The legend’s combination of fidelity, humor, heroism, and the grotesque lodged in a young boy’s brain; it may also explain why the story has been passed down through the centuries.

Years later, I learned that St. Lawrence had his own feast day. A feast day, mind you, not just a memorial. In many ways this feast emerges as a curious interruption. Here we are, in the final days of summer (if you live in the northern hemisphere), praying our way through ordinary time. And then, out of the blue, Lawrence interrupts us. Why is the Church calling us to stop and pay such attention to this little-known deacon and martyr from the 3rd century?

I would argue that the prominence of today’s feast lies in the very concept of “martyr,” literally "witness." Most of us will not be called to be “Martyrs” in the large M way, suffering a violent death in witness to Christ. But all of us are called to be martyrs in a “small m” way, witnessing to God’s ordinary yet transformative work in our daily lives. All of us are called to sow bountifully, loving with abandon. All of us are called to be “cheerful givers.” All of us are called to be fertile soil for God’s sowing. And all of us are called to follow Jesus through diakonia or service, especially, as today’s Psalm reminds us, through gracious lending to those in need. It is to this life of self-sacrificing service that Lawrence stands as a faithful witness. At the end of this day, may we look back with Lawrence and say, “It is well-done.”    

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