Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr

Lectionary: 618

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr. Our readings are selected for the occasion, rather than "Friday of the 18th week of ordinary time."
We must celebrate the martyrs periodically to remind us how dear our faith is. Indeed, martyrs are our assurance that the Spirit of God remains with us. If there should come a time when the Church is thoroughly inculturated and unmolested in every society, and no one is harassed, jailed or put to death for our faith, we'll know the Spirit of God has abandoned us to our sins. As I read the scriptures I suspect that every doctrine, from the creation myth in Genesis 1, and the definition of marriage in Genesis 2, to the eschatological hope of Revelations 22 is born of controversy. Someone or some group challenged the devout about our beliefs and those teachings appeared. Prostitution, adultery, spousal violence, abandonment and divorce have been with us since prehistoric times, and in response the Lord revealed to his people,
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.
If many people abandon our faith, it's not necessarily the fault of the faithful. As Saint Paul wrote to Timothy,
proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
Saint Lawrence is cherished especially for his sense of humor in the face of martyrdom. That too, is a sign of faith. 
I attended a meeting of priests in Milwaukee in 1979. (I remember the year because I was in that city less than a year.) The topic of discussion was difficult and the mood was grim. As the session ended, one priest said, "You've got to have faith." A second replied, "You have to have faith and sense of humor." A third stated, "You have to have a sense of humor and faith." 
As one who tends to take life on the chin, I hail the wisdom of that final remark.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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