The Gospel Today
Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr
Jn. 12: 24-26
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
Reflection: (Sem. Alfredo Dimaano, Jr.):
Today, the Gospel speaks of a paradox: unless a grain falls to the ground and dies, it won’t bear much fruit and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Ironic statements based on our worldly standards.
This day, we celebrate the Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr. When commanded by the Romans to surrender the Church’s riches, he assembled the poor to whom he had distributed Church’s possessions and said that the poor were the Church’s real treasure. This caused him to be roasted alive. His dying like a grain buried in the ground merited him to be one of the faithful witnesses to how it is to offer his life for the sake of God’s kingdom.
I believe, there’s a “martyr” in each one of us. Not so much as to be roasted as St. Lawrence had undergone, but in answering the invitation to stand up for this day’s persecuted Church. Last December, we were at Batasang Pambansa together with many other religious and lay groups lobbying against the passage of RH Bill. Standing in the heat of the sun, withstanding the thirst, even hunger, and most of all, the taunting of the pro-RH groups, for me, it was a form of new-day martyrdom not so much because of bloodshed but it was in itself a risking of life for the sake of the Church. Despite being in the losing end, to keep the faith in that troubled ordeal was the people’s way of dying to self, getting out of their comfort zones and fighting for what they believe in. It takes courage to do that but a person who believes possesses courage backed by his trust in the Lord.
“Martir” might have a negative connotation in the vernacular as it defines someone who is already trampled upon but still refuses to fight back. But I realize, the challenge for me is to be the “martir” for the Church, to be “fool” enough to die to myself, and offer my life, witnessing to the great love of God, even if it entails being scorned upon. To be a martyr, to die to myself, is to begin a new life with Christ.