Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows richly will also reap richly. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Blessed are those who revere the Lord,
who greatly delight in his commands.
Their posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed. (R./)
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be remembered forever. (R./)
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes. (R./)
Generously he gives to the poor,
his bounty shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples, "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour."
St Lawrence (225 -258) deacon of the church in Rome, was martyred under the Emperor Valerian on the August 10th 258, four days after Pope Sixtus II and some others. While little is known of Lawrence's life, he was noted for his generosity and was highly popular with the Christians of Rome. A basilica was built over his tomb near the Via Tiburtina fifty years after his death, by Emperor Constantine, and the anniversary of his martyrdom was kept in Rome as a solemnity. According to Wikipedia, Lawrence was born in Huesca, in the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis. While still in Spain he met the future Pope Sixtus II, of Greek origin, one of the most esteemed teachers in Caesar-augusta (today Zaragoza). Eventually, both left Spain for Rome. When Sixtus became the Pope in 257, he ordained St Lawrence as a deacon, and though Lawrence was still young appointed him first among the seven deacons who served in the patriarchal church. He is therefore called "archdeacon of Rome", a position of great trust that included the care of the treasury and riches of the church and the distribution of alms among the poor.
Apparently the Roman authorities had decreed that Christians should be executed and their goods confiscated by the Imperial treasury. At the beginning of August 258, the Emperor Valerian issued an edict that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death. Sixtus was captured on 6 August 258, at the cemetery of St Callistus while celebrating the liturgy and executed forthwith.
After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence hand over to the State all the property of the Church. St Ambrose tells how Lawrence asked for three days to gather together the Church property. He quickly distributed as much of it to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church he presented to the poor and the suffering, declaring that these were the true treasures of the Church. Accordingly he is honoured as the patron of all cheerful givers.
This sermon by St Augustine, from the Office of readings for today, links the Eucharist with preparedness for martyrdom.
"The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Laurence's day, triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ's blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord's supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. St Laurence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.
"If we truly love him, let us imitate him. After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps. In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ's passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps. The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.
"So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death. The apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God. What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequalled humility!
"Christ humbled himself: you have something, dear Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there. Let us listen to the apostle telling us, If you have risen with Christ, savor the things that are above is, seated at God's right hand."