Words on the Word
Today we keep the memory of a saint who, for remaining faithful to his Christian confession, was roasted on a grid. It says much about the Church that it dares to begin its Collect with the words, ‘O God, giver of that ardour of love for you by which St Laurence was outstandingly faithful’. The invocation of ‘ardour’ would, in any other context, seem ironic, yet here it simply spells things out as they are: it was the flame that burned within that enabled Laurence to sustain the flames that devoured him without. And such, we are told, is the intensity of faith to which we, too, should aspire. We will move in this direction, the prayer goes on, if we love what Laurence loved and put into practice what he taught. Ours is to be a full, integral life; a life in which our ordinary engagement with ordinary things sets us up for an extraordinary testimony that all of us, sooner or later, will have to bear. We are not all called to be martyrs, certainly; but we will all, one day, have to leave everything familiar behind, throwing ourselves into our heavenly Father’s embrace in a death that, in reality, is but a passage to a higher mode of living—but will nonetheless test us, like gold in the furnace, by fire. The Gospel put before us this day is the Gospel about the grain of wheat. It provides a paradigm for life in all its aspects. May we heed it, follow it, and learn to love it, ever willing to to let the one seed sink deep into the earth for the sake of a harvest that will be for the nurturing and joy of many.