I’m not a great fan of zucchini, but many years ago I did have a go at growing some. And I discovered that a mistake common to many novice gardeners is to underestimate the zucchini they plant. They don’t appreciate just how fruitful those tiny seeds can be. Just one seed can produce up to nine pounds of zucchini. So, planting just a couple of seeds can quickly result in a zucchini avalanche that leaves a gardener scrambling for clever recipes.
Perhaps this idea of a few seeds yielding an overwhelmingly large harvest is an appropriate way to understand today’s feast of Saint Lawrence. This third-century Roman deacon was known for his care for the poor and his courage and good humour in a time of intense persecution. According to tradition, when Saint Lawrence was martyred by being roasted alive, he called out to his tormentors, “Turn me over; I’m done on this side.”
News of Lawrence’s courage and faith led many people in Rome to turn to Our Lord despite the savage persecution. Even after Lawrence’s death, his miracles continued to prove that every good work that we sow in Our Lord’s name reaps huge dividends. For example, Saint Gregory of Tours tells the story of a large group of workers who ran out of food as they were rebuilding a church dedicated to Saint Lawrence. When they prayed to their heavenly patron, the one loaf of bread that remained in their basket miraculously multiplied to feed all of the workers for ten days.
God’s abundant grace and mercy can lead us to reap so much more than we can sow. Every prayer of intercession, every act of kindness, every decision to forgive—they can all produce basketfuls of blessings for the people around us. And so today as we remember Saint Lawrence, we also remember the zucchini. May they inspire us to go forth at the end of Mass and sow the seed of faith.
Saint Lawrence, pray for us.