Deacons are characterized by service, and the heroic witness of St. Lawrence reminds us that service cannot just be skin deep. There is a difference between the 9-5 attitude of a customer service representative, as noble a work as that may be, and seeing service as a mission that has no limits. Deacons serve in imitation of Christ, who became the servant of all through his sacrifice on the Cross. In the case of St. Lawrence his ministry as deacon reflected Christ’s service perfectly and reminded us that we are all called to service, even to the point of dedicating our lives and, if necessary, surrendering them for the sake of the Gospel.
As Paul reminds us in the First Reading we must be joyful in giving, and not stingy. The example of martyrdom summarizes that principle to a tee: in the Gospel Our Lord reminds us that, like a grain of wheat, we must die to ourselves in order to become something better, something fruitful. St. Lawrence gave witness to a service and concern for others and the Gospel that was not just skin deep: he didn’t see his mission of administering the material goods of the Church for the sake of the poor as just a job. The poor were his treasure and material goods were just a means of serving them.
Let’s pray for all deacons today, and let’s pray that Our Lord help us to serve generously and profoundly, not shy about being that grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit for others.
Readings: 2 Corinthians 9:6–10; Psalm 112:1–9; John 12:24–26.