All of the lectionary readings today are about generosity. On this feast of St. Lawrence, we hear about this young deacon in Rome the very early days of Christianity (c. 225 – 258). Legend tells us that Lawrence was charged with giving alms to the poor and when the pope was put to death and Lawrence knew that he would suffer the same fate for his faith, he gave all the money on hand to the poor and then sold the sacred vessels of the Church to add to what was available. In the first reading from 2 Corinthians 9, Paul says that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully…for God loves a cheerful giver. Psalm 112 reminds us that those who are gracious and lend to those in need shall be blessed. Finally, in the gospel Jesus says, 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.
With the image of St. Lawrence hurrying around to all the poor, distributing funds from the Church to all those he could reach, and a farmer lavishly flinging seed to assure a great crop, I can feel the desire rising in me for a world wherein we share all of the wealth that is stored “just in case” instead of building bigger barns to house it all. And with that thought comes a wondering about what it is of myself that I only share when I am confident of a return or when it is easy to give of my time or talent for someone who might need a lift. Do I allow myself the recognition of the paradox that has always proven to be true: that in giving we know a freedom never available to one whose fists are closed tight against a possible loss?