A Life of Risk

This homily was given at St. Joseph Parish, Roseburg, OR on the feast of St. Lawrence, August 10, 2022. The audio is available here.

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Everyone is sparing with what is rare, with a scanty resource, with something that’s limited.

If we feel that our time is a limited commodity, how likely are we going to be to burn up an hour in prayer or in service for someone in need?

And likewise, when we feel the pinch of a very limited budget, how likely are we going to be to give generously to someone who comes to us, asking for a donation?

Yet the divine logic that the Lord is proposing today in the Gospel, and that St. Paul is teaching us in this letter, is that God is the one who has all the money in the world.

God is the one who has all the time.

After all, He exists outside of it, and he created it for our good.

Indeed, St. Paul says, God is the one who is able to “make every grace abundant for you,” so that, having all you need—like good measure, pressed down and overflowing, a cup overflowing with bounty—you will be able to give freely and lavishly, generously, cheerfully, not meting out a little bit from what’s left over, but pouring forth out of the abundance of what the Lord gives, knowing that there is plenty to provide for ourselves and for the needs of those who come to us.

What the Lord is proposing to us today, dear friends, is a life of risk, whereby we give, maybe not knowing that there will be enough left over, but stepping out in faith, trusting that the Lord will provide.

When time is short and when we are the first to take the risk, spending it on God, what we find is that the Lord provides plenty of time to get everything else done as well.

And when we feel, perhaps, that our money or our goods are too short to provide for the needs of others, well, when we step out first, and we take the first risk in order to give away what little we have, we find that the Lord provides tenfold to provide for us and others.

But we have to be the first to take the risk.

We have to be the first to step out in faith, trusting that the Lord will provide the rest.

And St. Lawrence, whom we celebrate today—

You know, St. Lawrence is a great hero of our Christian faith.

One of the first deacons, the pride of the diaconate.

In the Roman Church, when the emperor Valerian was persecuting the Christians, St. Lawrence was entrusted with administering all the goods, all the riches of the church of Rome.

He was placed in charge of it all.

And Valerian knew this.

So he came to Lawrence and said, “Lawrence, give me all the goods of the church. Give me all the riches, all the gold I know you have stored.”

And so St. Lawrence went out to the streets of Rome and gathered all the poor, all the sick, all the suffering, and he brought them back like this great procession into the emperor’s palace and said, “Behold, here are the goods of the church. Here’s everything we have.”

Likewise, the Lord calls us to give Him everything we have, and maybe it’s not much.

But if we offer him everything, the Lord promises, He will make every grace abundant for us.

He is the one who scatters abroad, giving to the poor.

He doesn’t mete out a little bit.

He has all the seed, and He scatters it abroad in the field.

And we have been the recipient of His abundance.

And so, today, at this Holy Mass, let us, too, respond to the Lord who has been so generous with us, with a generosity of heart, trying to match our love for His love, our generosity for His generosity.

Lord, we promise today to pour our lives out for you, to make an abundant return for all that you have given us.

And as we receive you, Jesus, in Holy Communion, we ask for the grace to always return love for love, to lay down our lives for you and for another, in hope of the eternal reward that you promise to those who live as you lived and who love as you love.

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