St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
2 Corinthians 9:6-10 + John 12:24-26
August 10, 2017
“‘…whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.’”
In the year of Our Lord 258, Saint Lawrence offered the wealth of the Church to those who had nothing of their own. Lawrence was the chief deacon—the arch-deacon—of the Diocese of Rome. Part of the responsibility of a deacon is to proclaim the Word of God, to look after the material goods of the Church, and to care for the poor, and so as the chief deacon of a diocese as large as Rome, Lawrence held a great deal of responsibility.
He was called to act upon all these roles one day when Pope Sixtus II was put under civil arrest (Christianity still being an illegal religion). Not long after, the pope was martyred, and Lawrence knew that he would be one of the next Christians the Empire would come after. So Lawrence sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome, and gave them all the money he held, selling even the sacred vessels of the Church.
The civil prefect of Rome called Lawrence before him and demanded that he produce the treasure of the Church. Lawrence then gathered together the blind and the lame, the leprous, the widows and orphans, and lined them up before the prefect’s villa. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “Here is the treasure of the Church.” The prefect not only did not understand Lawrence’s words. He also did not understand Lawrence spending his life in the service of such people. It’s unlikely, in fact, that the prefect cared, since four days after the death of the pope, Lawrence was martyred as well, on August Tenth.
Saint Lawrence understood that the true wealth of the Church lays in the manner in which our lives touch the lives of others. In our own lives as Christians, one of the most important challenges we face is to realize to what extent—both for good and evil—our lives are connected to the lives of others.