Tonight we celebrated the feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, in the little church of San Pedro in a barrio of Dulce Nombre de Copán.
Lawrence who served the altar of the Lord knew the true treasure of the church and presented them - the poor, the ill, the marginalized - to the Roman prefect who wanted the wealth of the church.
Tonight was the first time I wore my red stole – the color of martyrs – which has an image of Blessed Monseñor Oscar Romero. The stole was made by the Poor Clare Sisters in Planes de Renderos, near San Salvador.
When I read the Gospel for the day this morning I was struck that it was the Gospel that Monseñor Romero proclaimed the night he was killed in the chapel of the Divina Providencia Hospital for Poor Cancer Patients.
“Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies it brings forth great fruit.” (John 12: 23-26)
Monsenõr Romero was celebrating the first anniversary of the death of the mother of a prominent journalist and remarked “how she put all of her educated upbringing, all her graciousness, at the service of a cause that is so important now: our people’s true liberation.”
He went on to refer directly to the Gospel:
you have just heard in Christ’s gospel that one must not love oneself so much as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and that those who try to fend off the danger will lose their lives, while those who out of love for Christ give themselves to the service of others, will live, live like the grain of wheat that dies, but only apparently. If it did not die, it would remain alone. The harvest comes about only because it dies, allowing itself to be sacrificed in the earth and destroyed. Only by undoing itself does it produce the harvest.
Tonight I proclaimed the Gospel and shared a few thoughts on the commitment of Saint Lawrence as well as these words from Romero. I pray that St. Lawrence and Blessed Monseñor Romero pray for me, that I have the courage and the creativity to speak and live this message of self-emptying for God and the poor.