2 Corinthians 9:6-10;Psalm 112:1-2, 5-9; John 12:24-26
God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that … you may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Openly following Jesus in third-century Rome was a risky business. Emperor Valerian II was killing believers right and left. Nonetheless, Lawrence, a deacon and trusted friend of Pope Sixtus II, continued his pastoral work with little concern for his safety.
Still, the time came when the prefect of Rome ordered Lawrence to collect all the church’s treasures and hand them over. But instead of gathering the church’s wealth together, Lawrence distributed it to the sick and needy. When the day came, he then presented these poor people to the prefect, saying: “Here is the treasure of the church.”
This bold move sealed Lawrence’s death sentence, but it didn’t take away his joy. The story goes that even as Lawrence was being burned alive on a gridiron, he said: “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.” So just how did Lawrence face his death with so much courage and even good humor?
Today’s first reading gives us a clue: God made his grace “abundant” for Lawrence, and that grace enabled him to give of himself in such a heroic way. Probably long before this persecution began, Lawrence had begun to rely on this grace and let it shape his character. How else could he have the strength to stand up to the prefect so peacefully?
Most of us aren’t living with daily, violent persecution, but we do face challenging situations every day. We can dedicate our day to serving or spend it expecting to be served. We can choose to forgive or to lash out. We can turn to Jesus or try to make a go of it with our own resources. Whatever it is, it all starts with receiving the Lord’s grace in our hearts. If we can get in that habit with the small things of life, we will be so much better prepared when the big challenges come our way!
“Jesus, I know that you gave up everything so that I could live. Help me to receive your grace today so that I can give myself to you and the people around me.” ~WAU