10 August, Monday — Dying to Self

Aug 10 – Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

St. Lawrence was a third-century archdeacon of Rome, a distributor of alms, and “keeper of the treasures of the Church” in a time when Christianity was outlawed. On 6 August 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope St. Sixtus II and six deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome.

While in prison awaiting execution, Sixtus reassured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it.

On Aug 10, Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome’s crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

Lawrence’s care for the poor, the ill, and the neglected have led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including the documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. And his incredible strength and courage when being grilled to death led to his patronage of cooks and those who work in, or supply things to, the kitchen. The meteor shower that follows the passage of the Swift-Tuttle comet was known in the middle ages as the ‘burning tears of St. Lawrence’ because they appear at the same time as Lawrence’s feast.

– Patron Saint Index

2 Cor 9:6-10
Jn 12:24-26

Unless a wheat grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”

Lately, I’ve been rather troubled by money and wealth, worrying about the future — wondering whether my average salary is sufficient to build a decent future. I cannot help but compare myself to my peers, who are well established in their careers, have purchased their first (and some even second) properties, and who are married with kids. Yet, here I am, still single and living in my childhood home, with nothing to my name, fumbling with my job, trying to figure out my purpose in life.

I had made the choice to take a few gap years from work for personal reasons, and I’ve also chosen career paths that are not financially lucrative. My personal belief is that every experience we had shapes us to the person we are today, and I do not have any regrets. Moreover, I’m not usually driven nor motivated by money. Yet, it does not stop me from stressing over the future.

We are called to leave everything behind and follow Jesus. There are many iterations of this throughout the Bible such as in today’s readings. The concept of ‘dying to self’ is not easy to follow. We think that we must give up all our earthly possessions and desires, everything that we had worked hard for and dreamed of. What we may forget is that God wants us to bear fruit and yield a rich harvest. God wants us to become the best version of ourselves.

The seed does not fulfil its purpose and becomes useless if it does not fall to the ground and ‘die’. But we should not have any fear. We are assured in today’s first reading, that God is able to make every grace abundant for us, so that in all things, always having all we need, we may have an abundance for every good work.

The difficulty lies in discerning the path that God wants us to take — which is often filled with obstacles. How do we trust in God that He will provide and make a way? How do we determine our God-given gifts and use them as He desires for us? The only way is by staying close to Jesus and giving ourselves fully to Him, and we will find that peace which the world cannot give.   

Perhaps these negative stresses and fears are surfacing because I have been growing distant in my spiritual relationships. It has not been easy keeping up a regular prayer life, especially without the sacraments during this period. I’ve also been procrastinating registering with a church so that I may attend mass physically. I know that I need God in my life, and I pray that we will continually seek to put Him in the centre of all that we do.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Lord, You must increase and I must decrease. Please come and take complete possession of my soul. Transform my mind and heart, guide my will, emotions and desires. And allow me to become a holy instrument of Your divine life. Jesus, I trust in You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the gifts and graces that you have poured onto us. Help us to make full use of the gifts you have given us so that we may go forth and bear fruit. Amen.

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