Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Today's saint is such a significant figure in the life of the Church, he is one of the very few saints whose feast is an actual "Feast" day (in liturgical terms) with the Gloria and special readings. And those readings are quite meaningful.
St. Lawrence may be best known for his ironic sense of humor, and the first reading highlights that in a way: it's the part of Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians that features his well-coined phrase about being a "cheerful giver." Lawrence not only gave his life for the faith; he was the deacon in charge of giving the Sunday collection of money and goods to the poor of Rome. (He enraged the Roman official who ordered him to deliver the Church's wealth by presenting himself with a group of orphans, widows and cripples: "You asked to see the Church's treasure? Here it is!"
In Paul's letter, the Corinthians were being encouraged on their part to donate to a collection for the poor of Jerusalem, and Paul reassured them that God would not be outdone in generosity: "God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that you have everything you need, and even more for good works."
This "theology of abundance" is the Christian answer to the Malthusian fears that are the basis for so many wrong-headed approaches to human problems (as referred to in Monday's post). Naturally, I find myself challenging Paul: if God can provide so abundantly, why are people starving to death--today--in Somalia? (I suppose Paul would remind me that in cases like this, it's not that the earth fails to produce enough food, it's that people fail in letting it reach the needy, or letting the needy reach it.) 
If we really believed that "God is able to make every grace abundant," I suspect there would be less temptation to greed, to stockpiling, but also less of that temptation that Jesus teasingly described as "the Gentiles of this world running around and asking, 'What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?" We would know that the God who provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field could be counted on so firmly that we could confidently share "our daily bread," the way St. Lawrence did. Maybe there would be fewer places like Somalia.

1 comment:

Daniel Muller said...

Hello, Sister.

I ran across your blog because I was looking up the origins of "Mary, how sweetly falls that word." No luck so far, but I did notice your comment on my patron saint:

St. Lawrence may be best known for his ironic sense of humor

That is really quite a pun. I am sure that St. Lawrence likes it!