Lawrence has since been venerated by the Church and his name is mentioned in the Roman Canon used at the Mass. Jesus says in the Gospel today: whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also, whoever serves me, the Father will honor. The word translated as serve in Greek comes from the root word for deacon which literally means waiter, or someone who serves at the table. There is a misconception today that our responsibility as Christians is to serve the poor. The first responsibility of a Christian is aim for holiness to give glory to God. St Lawrence was not executed for helping the poor. He was executed because he was a deacon of the Church and he taught the Emperor here true riches lies, not in riches, but in serving Jesus Christ. Pope Francis said, A baptized person who does not feel the need to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Jesus, is not a good Christian.
This is why in the Gospel today, Jesus says we are to serve him, and more importantly follow him wherever he goes.
In another instance, Jesus said, whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, carry his cross and follow me. Serving Jesus means to follow him, to obey him, to live a life that is pleasing to him.
This means to wait on him and do what he wants. To say that the main responsibility of the Church is to serve the poor is not correct. We do not enter heaven because we serve the poor. We enter heaven because we allow God to make us holy by obeying him.
The First Reading shows us what serving Jesus means. It is to be generous to him. While the First Reading speaks of generosity in terms of material things, this can also apply to our spiritual life. We can be generous with our material goods, but if we are not generous to God with our hearts, then it counts for nothing. We must be generous in our service to God to the point of dying to ourselves, just as Jesus said in the Gospel that those who love their life lose it and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If our vision of life is only for this life here on earth, then there is no point in living a good life.
The Responsorial Psalm tells us: happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments. We are blessed when we fear the Lord, meaning revere God and serve him, and delight in his commands.
Our service to the poor counts only when we live in reverence of the Lord and delight in his commands. This is what makes us generous and give to the poor.
Lord, remind me that I am to serve you alone and not anyone else. In serving you, let me follow you and obey you so I can give glory to you. St Lawrence, help me to serve Jesus as I should. Remind me that true riches is in following Jesus.