09 Aug


(A biblical reflection on the FEAST OF SAINT LAWRENCE – Tuesday, 10 August 2012)

Gospel Reading: John 12:24-26

First Reading: 2Corinthians 9:6-10; Psalms: Psalm 112:1-2,5-9

The Scripture Text

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant be also; if any one serves Me, the Father will honor him.(John 12:24-26 RSV)

Today, August 10, the Church commemorates Saint Lawrence, a deacon in Rome who was martyred in 258 A.D. during the persecution under Emperor Valerian. Saint Augustine, in a sermon given on this day, referred to Lawrence’s death as a victory and a triumph: “He trod underfoot a stupefied world and rejected its flattery, thus overcoming the devil, his real persecutor.” Lawrence’s death was a victory because before his martyrdom he experienced the death that Jesus talked about: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

Before any of us can die the death of a true martyr, we must first experience death to self in this life. God wants us to put aside our preoccupations with the world and our preconceptions about Him so that His truth can fill us. He wants us to surrender our hopes and dreams for this world so that He can show us the glory of His heavenly Kingdom. If the new life of Christianity is to bear fruit, the old life must die.

Saint Augustine knew that everyone is called to this death, not just the martyrs:

The martyrs followed Christ even to shedding their blood and imitating his sufferings, but they are not the only ones. The bridge did not collapse after they had crossed it, nor did the fountain dry up when they had drunk from it. In the Lord’s garden, along with the roses of the martyrs, there are the lilies of the virgins, the ivy of the married people, and the violets of widows. Let no class of men despair of salvation, for Christ died for all. “He wishes all men to be saved and to come to know the truth.”

Saint Augustine continued:

How, then, may the Christian follow Christ apart from shedding his blood? Through humility. “Christ humbled Himself and became obedient.” How, then, can you be proud? Only after having humbled Himself unto death did Christ ascend to heaven; Him we must follow. (Sermon 304)

Prayer: Lord, grant us the humility to die to ourselves that we may fully live. Amen.

Jakarta, 9 August 2021

A Christian Pilgrim


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