The 2,000 years of Christianity have been punctuated with reminders of our duty toward “the poor among us.” The verse that begins today’s readings is clear. Paul says: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 COR 9:6) We would do well to meditate on the actions of St. Lawrence, whose feast is today, as we consider this Scripture text. He was a deacon in Rome during the early days of Christian persecution about whom almost all of the little that is known is legend. There is no birth date and a question mark follows the printed date of his death (d. 258?). He is remembered, however, as the story goes, for his actions when he was commanded to bring all the holy vessels that comprised the riches of the Church to the prefect (governor). He agreed but asked for three days to put together an inventory of what was valuable. When the prefect returned, Lawrence had gathered “a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows…[and] simply said, ‘These are the treasures of the Church.'” (http://www.americancatholic.org) As you might imagine, St. Lawrence became a martyr shortly thereafter.
I am left after those readings with the same questions that come to me each time I am reminded of this issue of justice in the world. What can I do to help the people in my own community to be fed? Where are the children in our area who go to bed hungry? Why, in one of the riches countries in the world are there so many people who have to make a choice between rent and food or medicine and food or any other need and food? There are many questions about issues both individual and systemic. I find myself most often in the population that is charitable but not so involved in justice work. Today, when rain and mundane tasks will keep me inside, is a good day to take one more step across that line toward the difficult work of justice.