August 10, The Feast of St Lawrence
God loves a cheerful giver — 2 Corinthians 9:7
“You can turn me over now, I’m done on this side!”
In the days of Emperor Valerian, back in ancient Rome, you had to be tough to be a Christian. I’m talking MARTYR TOUGH!
Lawrence was more than just a tough-skinned Christian. He lived up to the titles deacon and martyr through his exemplary service to the humble people of God and his undying witness to the faith. In a word, he was holy. And on top of it all, he had a great sense of humor.
If you attend daily mass, you probably heard the story of Saint Lawrence in today’s homily, just like you heard it last year, and you will hear it again next year. The story of Saint Lawrence is worth telling and hearing again and again. It’s like the the Perseid meteor shower, also known as Tears of St. Lawrence, that reappears every year around the time of this feast. You know it’s coming, you look forward to it, and you relish it when it comes around. It never gets old.
Instead of reiterating the account of St Lawrence’s Martyrdom (which you can check out here: Frangelico Institue; and here: a WordPress site I’m glad I stumbled upon yesterday while looking for the picture I posted above), I want to say just a few words about why stories like these embellish the beauty of our faith.
The first time I heard of St Lawrence was at a diaconate ordination that took place on August 10 (that’s today), back in 1993. The memory of it obviously stuck and remains with me almost 20 years later. I remember the readings for that day too. The line that stuck out was from the first reading, from the second Epistle to the Corinthians: “God loves a cheerful giver.” I put the two together and took it as a lesson for how I should live my life.
God talks to us through simple things that our human minds relate with striking events: A meteor shower, a legendary saint, a hot summer day, a scripture reading, a cookout. The ordinary has new meaning and life takes on a different perspective. The story of heroic martyrdom inspires us to endure suffering with grace, to serve with joy, to spread the faith through the witness of our ordinary lives, and to do it all with a smile on our face. And sometimes, when the going gets tough, we muster up the courage to offer it up and… laugh it off. In doing so, God uses us as testimonies to others. The blood of martyrs perpetuates itself through our daily martyrdom of dying to ourselves and continues to become the seed of new Christians.
Today, I encourage you to find someone who has never heard the story of St. Lawrence’s Martyrdom and tell it to them. See if they don’t laugh.
What? You mean you don’t know the story of Saint Lawrence!