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Home » Daily Readings

A Martyr’s Generosity

Submitted by on Monday, 10 August 2009One Comment


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I have already written something about the day’s first reading here.. The passage derives from a context where Paul encourages his community at Corinth to be more generous in their giving of alms. The immediate context is a letter of solicitation. The way the passage is used in the liturgy in honor of St. Lawrence, however, represents an application of Paul’s message on generosity to the theme of martyrdom: the self-less giving of one’s life for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

The combination of 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 with John 12:24-26 gives a different nuance to the selection from Paul’s letter. In an article you will find at Res Biblica, I explain that Jesus speaks the words of verses 24-26 at the moment when he realizes that his Hour has come. Thus those verses are best understood within the context of an invitation to join Jesus in his Hour. Martyrs are the baptized who have been brought to perfection through their following of Christ even to the point of death. The process already begun in baptism of their participation in the death of Christ finds fulfillment in their profession of the faith through physical death. On this theme, St. Augustine says about martyrs and their following of the Lord

So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death. The Apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God. What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequalled humility!

Tributes to St. Lawrence

He hastens through the city streets,
And in three days he gathers up
The poor and sick, a mighty throng
Of all in need of kindly alms.

He sought in every public square
The needy who were wont to be
Fed from the stores of Mother Church,
And he as steward knew them well.

(From the Hymn to St. Lawrence by Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, published 405)

The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Laurence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. St Laurence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death. (St. Augustine)

2 Corinthians 9:6-10
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
6Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings.
7Every one as he hath determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8And God is able to make all grace abound in you; that ye always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work,
9As it is written: He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever.
10And he that ministereth seed to the sower, will both give you bread to eat, and will multiply your seed, and increase the growth of the fruits of your justice:
John 12:24-26
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24Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die,
25Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.
26If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour.

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One Comment »

  • Daily Inspirations » Lawrence the Deacon said:

    […] Today is the Memorial of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. The readings for this day are the same from year to year. Read this article from 2009 about the readings of the day. […]

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