St. Lawrence, whose feast day is coming up, fits nicely with Jesus’ teaching this Sunday on the Kingdom of God as a treasure. Lawrence (?225-258) served his particular Christian faith community by caring for those who were poor; he distributed the goods of the community to people according to their need. He lived in Rome during a time Roman officials, specifically Emperor Valerian, were targeting Christians for persecution. Lawrence’s friend, Sixtus, had recently been condemned to death and was executed; the evidence suggests Sixtus was beheaded.
In addition to the officials wanting Christians dead, they also wanted any treasures they possessed. Therefore, when officials came to arrest church members and learned that Lawrence handled the community’s finances, they singled him out for attention. As the story is told, the officials told Lawrence they would be back tomorrow and demanded that he produce for them the treasures of the Church. Lawrence gave them his word he would do so. When the officials returned the next day, Lawrence said to them “I have kept my world. Here are the treasures of the church.” He then opened the doors to the community’s gathering space for the officials to see a great number of poor, leprous, lame, and blind people as well as widows and orphans. “These are the treasures of the Church.” said Lawrence. Needless to say the officials were not amused. They led Lawrence away to be executed.
Those who are poor will always recognize Jesus as their treasure, they will always gather round him as church, and they will always experience persecution. And what of we who are not poor? Who or what do we recognize as our treasure? Are we church? Will we ever experience even pushback for the faith we express?
Prayer: Dear God, help us to treasure the least among us.
Question: What is the one treasure I seek and is it really worth my life?
July 27, 2014 Gospel Matthew 13:44-52 Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time