To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Cor 9:6-10; Jn 12:24-26
The esteem in which the Church holds Lawrence is seen in the fact that today’s celebration ranks as a feast. We know very little about his life. He is one of those whose martyrdom made a deep and lasting impression on the early Church. Celebration of his feast day spread rapidly.
He was a Roman deacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. Four days after this pope was put to death, Lawrence and four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian.
A well-known legend has persisted from earliest times. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. The prefect of Rome was under the impression that the Church was rich and commanded Lawrence to bring to him all the Church’s riches. Lawrence asked for three days and in that time gathered the poor, the blind, the lame, the leprous and orphaned and widowed persons and placed them before the prefect. The prefect was enraged and had Lawrence put to death. The prefect prepared a lattice with coals beneath it and had Lawrence’s body placed on it.
The Gospel text chosen for the feast is one in which Jesus’ introduces the first set of teachings about Jesus’ death. The significance of this parable for understanding Jesus’ death lies in the contrast between remaining alone i.e. “just a single grain” and “bearing much fruit” i.e. life in community. This means that the saving power of Jesus’ death dwells in the community that is gathered together as a result of that death.
To love one’s life is to place oneself outside the community and thus leads to isolation and loss of life. To regard this life as temporary and passing it to declare allegiance to Jesus and so live in community. The call then is to love as Jesus loved and to live as Jesus lived. This will be challenging because it may lead to death. However, even death is temporary, because after it there is eternal life.
Lawrence understood and lived out the invitation of Jesus to the full and invites us to do the same. Are we ready?