“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.” (John 12:24)
This image of the grain of wheat certainly applies to St. Lawrence, a deacon of the early church who was cruelly martyred during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Valerian in the year 258. But as much as this passage applies to martyrs, it can also be applied to all of us as well.
Historical records tell of St. Lawrence’s response to the agents of Valerian, who gave him twenty-four hours to hand over the treasures of the Roman church. The next day, Lawrence appeared with a multitude of Rome’s poor and disabled—all of whom he served in his ministry as a deacon. “These are the treasures of the church,” he announced. And for his audacity, St. Lawrence was roasted alive.
If the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, where do we fit in today? I don’t imagine any of us will be called upon to shed our blood for what we believe in. So how do we help the Church take root and grow? Well we do so by freely embracing the small ‘martyrdoms’ that are part and parcel of our everyday lives.
When we choose to put aside our selfish concerns in order to help others, or when we decide to make a stand for the Gospel, we join martyrs like St. Lawrence in sharing in Our Lord’s sacrifice for the world. In this way we really can bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
Saint Lawrence, pray for us.