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Archive for August 10th, 2012

About Lawrence:  Early in the third century AD, Lawrence, most likely from Spain, made his way to Rome. There he was appointed chief of the seven deacons and was given the responsibility to manage Church property and finances. The emperor at the time, who thought that the Church had valuable things worth confiscating, ordered Lawrence to produce the ‘treasures of the Church.’ According to tradition,  Lawrence brought before the emperor the poor whose lives had been touched by Christian charity. He  jailed and eventually executed in the year AD 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young Church because he was a Roman citizen tortured and executed by Roman authorities.  Almost immediately, the date of this death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.  (adapted from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH). The particular persecution that led to Lawrence’s execution began in anno Domini 257:

…the Roman emperor Valerian began a vigorous persecution of the church, aimed primarily at the clergy and laity of the upper classes. All of the properties of the church were confiscated and assemblies for worship were forbidden. On August 4, 258 the Bishop of Rome, Sixtus II who had just become bishop the year before, and his deacons were apprehended at the cemetery of Callistus where they were celebrating the liturgy, and all except Lawrence were summarily executed and buried in the same cemetery…Lawrence, who knew of the location of the Church’s treasure, was tortured and then executed on August 10.

Reflection: I would think Lawrence knew the location of the Church’s treasure! He knew exactly where it was as in the old pirate maps: when X marks the spot, that is the Cross of Jesus Christ.  He knew that the treasures of Christ’s grace is for the  poor, the lame, the orphans and the widows, for all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the poor in spirit.   He did not “follow the money”: he followed His Lord and yours.  As a steward of Jesus Christ, His deacon, Lawrence maintained earthly treasure probably well but gold does not make the Church, only the blood of Christ.

When the Church and her Christians think the true treasures of the church are in the offering plates/big budgets  or our “creative ministries” or our programs, and not the Cross and Sacraments, Scripture and Service in His love, then, “…we are in danger of losing the things that make the Church in favor of those who claim to make the Church.  Church leaders only gain legitimacy when they are the delivery point of the divine gifts.” (Pr. Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH)  Lawrence and many others so delivered the divine gifts and were delivered up as martyrs and their witness heartens us.

We pray…Gracious Lord, in every age You have sent men and women who have given their lives for the message of  Your Gospel and all the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.  Inspire us with the memory of those martyrs for the Gospel, like Your servant Lawrence, whose faithfulness led them to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to Your Son’s ficotry over sin and death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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 On verse 28: “…the monks and hypocrites blaspheme our Gospel today and say: ‘Why do you stress faith so much in your sermons?’ They imagine that God owes them eternal life for their merits and holy life.” (on verse 28)

On verse 29: “Our flesh and blood serve only themselves. If a single work of God is to be performed, it must be inspired by God, and so it is truly the work of the His Spirit.” (on verse 29)

On verse 29:  ” …though I see with my eyes, I still do not behold Christ. He does not want to be grasped by our thoughts and reason. Thus faith is not our work; for I am drawn to Christ, whom I neither feel nor see.”

On verse 51:  “…here we are informed of another and better bread, called God’s bread, which comes from heaven and is not baked on earth. It is granted by the Holy Spirit. It confers everlasting life, a life not merited and earned, a gift from heaven. Thus, you see two kinds of bread here. The one is not earned, not acquired through a self-chosen, self-devised mode of life, but is an outright gift of bread, food and life.” (on verse 32)

On verse 51:  “…the Jews argued: If God is the Creator of heaven and earth, then He is also on this mountain, on this hill, or in that valley. And they proceeded to build temples, churches, and altars here and there —on mountains, in groves, and in other places — establishing their worship there and saying: “Our God will not be imprisoned in a temple, in that dark corner of Jerusalem. Although our Lord God also dwells there, it remains true that the grove is His as well as Jerusalem is.” They were as clever as that. Thus they could argue: “God is the Creator of heaven and earth. It follows that He is omnipresent. He is also on this hill, in this vale, or in this grove. Therefore it is proper for me to serve Him wherever I wish.”But they were far from the truth; for in Deuteronomy God declares (12:13): “Take heed that you do not offer your burnt offerings at every place that you see. I will not let Myself be found, I will not hear or be worshiped, at the places of your choice. Cities, forests, meadows, hill, and vale are all Mine, to be sure; but I do not want to be worshiped, honored, or acknowledge there; I insist that you worship Me in the place and in the manner which I shall prescribe to you.”

Now if nothing else counts, then what can the zeal of others avail? Thus a Carthusian says: “I will serve God in my cowl. I will not sleep much. I will fast, pray, and abstain from this and that food.” But God replies: “I will have none of it.” If you want to have God, then mark where He resides and where He wants to be found. Thus He says ( Matt. 17:5): “Behold, this is My beloved Son, whom I sent tayou and with whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” If the Son is left out of the reckoning, then God’s good will toward man is also lacking, and your worship of Him is vain. Christ Himself declares here: “I am the eternal life, the bread of life. And if you, too, want to live and not die of hunger and thirst, you must eat and drink Me.” If anyone were to ask: “Whither shall we turn for eternal life?” the answer is that we must remain with His flesh and blood. The Father is well pleased with everything the Son says, namely, that we must eat His flesh. It is not written that we should run to St. Iago or Jerusalem, make a pilgrimage to St. Catherine’s, eat the flesh of St. Barbara, or drink the blood of St. Christopher.

 

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