The Feast of St. Lawrence
[Scripture Readings: 2 Cor 9:6-10; Jn 12: 24-26]
It is a commonplace to say that the saints present us with models of how to live the Christian life. They embodied the gospel in their time and place, and they call us to embody the gospel in our own time and place. St. Lawrence presents us with two ways of embodying the gospel: stewardship and martyrdom.
Stewardship as an element of Christian life is more than efficient and successful management. Some of the models of executive management that are presented to us are anything but according to the gospel! In his advice to the Corinthians St. Paul presents generosity as an important characteristic of gospel stewardship. Generosity is first of all free. It is a decision that we make in our consciences, free from inner compulsion or external pressure. We are not generous because we think it will make us look good in the eyes of others. Some of St. Lawrence’s contemporaries probably considered his behavior foolish rather than generous. Our generosity is a decision that we make before God, in light of the resources and responsibilities that he has entrusted to us. Because of this our generosity can be joyful: It is a response to God’s call to share in his generosity out of the generosity that he has shown to us.
God has given us whatever we have, and God’s gifts are not to be selfishly clung to. God’s gifts are always meant to be shared. He will provide for our needs. He will always give us more than we have, but I cannot receive God’s more unless I am willing to let go of what I have. Christian generosity is based on faith, because there will be times when we will not know what God wants to give us unless we are willing to stand empty before him.
None of us knows if we will be called to imitate St. Lawrence in his physical martyrdom, but becoming empty before God will always entail some form of death to ourselves. It is part of God’s irony that sharing in his life comes from dying to ourselves. Generosity calls for sacrifice. Unwillingness to sacrifice what God has given us to share with others will mean sacrificing the share in God’s own life that he wants to share with us.
St. Lawrence saw the poor that God had entrusted to his care as the Church’s treasure. Celebrating his memory this morning calls us to search in our own lives for the treasure that God has entrusted to us, and as good stewards use it for the good of our brothers and sisters.