St. Lawrence, a deacon of the Roman church, was arrested in 258 AD during the Christian persecution of  Emperor Valerian. St. Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale that, when asked to hand over the treasure of the Church, Lawrence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. He worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the Roman prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said these were the true treasures of the Church. St. Lawrence was immediately martyred and then buried in the Christian catacombs.

Today’s martyrs hand over their lives to the Lord in different circumstances than did St. Lawrence. The common thread then and now is that commitment to the gospel and selfless generosity in the Lord’s service. As St. Paul assures us, God provides abundance of grace for every good work, “to multiply your seed and in increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

In my life today, what personal sacrifice and selfless generosity does the Lord invite?

—The Jesuit prayer team