10 August, Wednesday — Dying to ourselves, Living in God

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 on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”

Today, we celebrate the feast day of St Lawrence, one of the seven deacons who served the Roman Church during the middle of the third century, in spite of his youth. He was at the side of Pope Sixtus II whenever the latter offered the Holy sacrifice; and he was also entrusted with the administration of the goods of the Church and responsible for caring for the poor. He was subsequently martyred by the Emperor. In his martyrdom, where he was roasted to death, St Lawrence prayed for the conversion of Rome.

Even though we are not in the season of Lent, today’s gospel reminds us of God’s call for us to follow him and leave our old self behind.

Lately, I had been jealous of what people have that I lacked. Some of my friends and relatives have the financial capability to travel around the world, purchase their BTO flats, and/or splurge on luxurious delicacies and fashion. And many of my friends and relatives are also in a relationship – some of them have already gotten married.

But where am I? I came from a strong educational background, but now I am nowhere as rich as my peers. And neither do I have a partner. I felt like I was a failure because I have not met the success criteria set by our society. There were many nights where I could not cope with the loneliness and disappointment, and God really seemed far away from me. There were times when I was tempted away from our church, and I felt like I was in a dark and empty place.

So, one recent night, right before I slept, I read by chance on an Australian Catholic Facebook group, a post about how Our Lady converted prisoners who were about to be executed.

Although what I read was not directly related to the jealousy that I was harbouring against my brothers and sisters in Christ, I realised that even with nothing, God can still work miracles through us. And as God told St Laurence to comfort him during his torments, “My servant, do not be afraid. I am with you,” my life is the best thing that I can offer to God; I don’t have to compare my life with the lives of other people around me. I can offer up my jealousy to God and pray for my friends and relatives who are going through tribulations that they choose not to publicise.

So, let us die to our old self, and live in God as His sons and daughters from today onwards, offering up our life to Him everywhere and at every moment.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please give us the courage to leave our old sinful self behind, take up our cross and follow You, wherever You lead us to. Help us to live in You as your sons or daughters. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for always being with us even as we walk through the darkest valleys in life and, most importantly, for giving us life. Amen.

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