Mass Reading & Meditation for August 10, 2013
Meditation: John 12:24-26
Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
“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. (John 12:24)”
This image of the grain of wheat certainly applies to St. Lawrence, a deacon of the early church who was martyred during the persecution of Valerian in a.d. 258. But as much as this passage applies to martyrs, it can be applied to all of us as well.
Fourth-century accounts tell of Lawrence’s bold response to the agents of the emperor Valerian, who gave him twenty-four hours to produce the treasures of the Church. The next day, Lawrence appeared with a throng of Rome’s poor and disabled—all of whom he served. “These are the treasures of the Church,” he announced. For his audacity, Lawrence was roasted alive.
Now, to the world, Lawrence’s death would appear a waste—just another noble fellow whose life was snuffed out too soon. But that’s not how God sees it. And it isn’t how the Church sees it. In fact, Lawrence and all the martyrs are powerful witnesses to us, examples for us to follow as we face the “little martyrdoms” of our everyday lives.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, once explained it this way: “A mother … goes home and begins her day made up of a thousand little things. Her life is literally reduced to crumbs, but what she does is no little thing: It is Eucharist with Jesus! A religious sister … goes to her daily work among the old, the sick, the children. Her life too might seem split by many small things that leave no trace at night—another day wasted. But her life too is Eucharist… . No one should say, ‘What use is my life? What am I doing in this world?’ You are in the world for the most sublime of reasons, to be a living sacrifice. To be Eucharist with Jesus.”
When we put aside ourselves to help others, or when we stand up for the gospel, we join martyrs like Lawrence in sharing in Jesus’ sacrifice for the world. The “crumbs” of our lives are gathered together and bring hope to other people. Each one of us is a treasure of the Church.
“Jesus, help me to empty myself so that I can serve your people. Help me to bear fruit for your kingdom.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-10; Psalm 112:1-2,5-9