St. Lawrence lived in the third century and was one of the deacons of St. Sixtus II, whose martyrdom we celebrated a few days ago. This was during the persecution of emperor Valerian. Lawrence was told by the prefect to hand over the treasury of the Church. When told to do so, he pointed to a group of poor people and said: Here are the true treasures of the Church. He died by being roasted on a gridiron.
Today, in the gospel, Jesus speaks the words that describe what the life of his followers has to be: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” The followers of Christ have to experience in their lives what he experienced. He puts to us the question: “What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and looses his soul?” Anyone with a sense of what salvation means would answer “Nothing.” We have to understand though, that the shadow of the cross is from the light of the resurrection: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels.” Only by renouncing self and giving ourselves over to the trials of living the Christian life in the world does a person make himself able to experience the glory of Christ’s kingdom when he comes again.
Collect: Father, you called St. Lawrence to serve you by love and crowned his life with glorious martyrdom. help us to be like him in loving you and doing your work. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.