Today’s Mass is in honor of St. Lawrence. The Psalm 112: 1-8 states, “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord…his heart is steady and will not be afraid.” These words typify the Deacon, St. Lawrence. God’s guarantee of safety, in the face of all forms of danger, was the only assurance that he needed. He faced his own torturous death with calm, with peace and even with humor. While his torturers were actually grilling him to death, his reply to them was, “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side.”

This display of immense courage and calm in the face of this terrible torture causes us confusion and bewilderment. How can he possibly remain like this? He must be someone God has granted unusual peace and long-suffering. We know that we could not display this same courage. We can’t even imagine ourselves even being willing to allow ourselves to endure such harsh punishment.

But the truth is, we can be. We truly can be. The direction of the above mentioned Psalm tells us how. “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord”. Blessed! Endowed with peace and serenity! Trusting in God! If God is my ally, what evil can possibly upset me? That, however, is the fly in the ointment. We go to church. We pray to God. We speak of our love for Him. We leave church … and forget everything that we said and felt. Trust is so very difficult for us. We have gotten so used to relying on ourselves, so totally, that we don’t even allow God to direct us.

“Fearing the Lord”, is not intended as a dread of God so that we are afraid to do anything contrary to His word. But rather fear in this context, implies a bond so close that we are happy to be aligned with Him. We understand His love for us, and so we trust Him, implicitly. We know a true love of a mother or father would not, and could not possibly harm their child purposely, but would protect him/her at all cost. Even though correction and discipline are sometimes employed by the parents, the child recognizes that he/she is loved. As a result of this secure feeling, the child responds, listens and tries to emulate.

With God, as our Father, our life becomes more than just a natural animal’s life. We are special to Him. If we are not special then, why would He have given us intelligence and the ability to reason (no other animal has it)? Why would He give us free will to make choices (no other creature can do that)? His love, an infinite love, has been and will continue to be totally engulfing us. You might ask, “How then can we suffer and die”? The ONLY evil that exists is the loss of our soul, the total disruption of the bond that exists between God and man. All other things that are regarded as evil are temporal, are fleeting. Loss of possessions, loss of health, disabilities, and even death — none of these bring about the loss of our soul. They are hindrances. They are things that we must endure; but they cannot, they should not take our gaze away from God.

So we see that what is important to us is what determines what we call “evil”. We are all called to greatness. We are all called to being re-united with God. If, however, our value system puts our job, our possessions, our family, our friends and acquaintances, our pleasures, even our health above God, then loss of any of these will represent evil to us. On the other hand, if our call to greatness, our call to being united with God is of paramount importance to us then we can understand St. Lawrence’s total disdain for himself and his almost humorous reply, “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side.” To reach this unity with God is what we must strive to work at the rest of our lives.

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