Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr
Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, and once again we ponder the value of our faith.
How much is it worth to you?
Americans are wont to put a price tag on anything, estimated in $ signs.
Given certain items -- faith, health, family, an individual human life, and so forth-- we realize almost immediately these are not commodities and should not be priced.
But the fact is many people do commodify these items. Human beings are routinely bought and sold by slavers who spirit their goods across international boundaries. Two weeks ago we learned of over a hundred Mexican people crated in an airless truck and shipped into San Antonio. Like their spiritual ancestors in the African slave trade, several were dead on arrival. You can be sure the merchants who arranged this transaction had their payment before the affair was discovered. Business is business. It's only illegal if they're caught; otherwise it is profitable.
Insurance companies commodify the health of their clients. They are willing to pay for many medicines and procedures but not all. Some of those items are unproven; others are just too expensive. Everybody has to make hard choices; sometimes the insurance companies do it for us.
Contractors estimate how many lives will be lost when they build skyscrapers; strategist estimate the "casualties" of war.
Even faith is commodified. Some people determine they can't afford the time or expense of attending church despite their insistent claim of belief in Jesus.
When the Roman emperor demanded that Saint Lawrence reveal and turn over the wealth of the Roman church the deacon cheerfully gathered the poor, the disabled, the orphaned and widowed and presented them to the emperor. He was brutally martyred for his trouble. Legend has it he was still laughing at his joke when he died.
Our Christian martyrs remind us that faith in Jesus Christ is worth more even than our individual human life. They follow in the very footsteps of Jesus as he leads us on the Way of the Cross.
They teach us the relative worth of everything and that some things are priceless.