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A few laughs out by the barbeque

by davesandel on August 10th, 2021

Tuesday, August 10, 2021                              (today’s lectionary)

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

A few laughs out by the barbeque

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. But whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. God loves a cheerful giver.

“Yeah, see there’s this black car outside my apartment, and its passenger window is all taped up with a black garbage bag and some tape, and at first I thought, ‘What a loser!’ until I remembered that was my roommate’s car.”

God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.

Our upstairs neighbor is a standup comedian from San Diego, replanted recently to Austin like us from a place sometimes more, sometimes less hospitable than our current home town. At lunchtime he’s a server at an excellent nearby Chinese restaurant and gets great tips. His boss leaves him to his own devices in the evenings, and those devices more and more are gigs at local comedy clubs in Austin, like Native Hostel and the Cherrywood Coffeehouse.

“Most weeks I might make $50 doing gigs,” he said. A month or so ago, a bit discouraged, he took a trip back to San Diego and did a dozen shows in seven days. Slow takes time. His roommate is also a comedian, from Ohio. As we said, his car was broken into downtown a few days ago.

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

If these guys are Catholic, and if they went to a Catholic school, then perhaps they know about Saint Lawrence, whose feast day is today. Back in the third century, a time not known for its comedic riches, Lawrence was ordered by the emperor of Rome to turn over the wealth of the church. Lawrence asked for three days to gather the loot.

Blessed is the gracious man who lavishly gives to the poor. His generosity shall endure forever, and he shall be exalted in glory.

During those short few days Lawrence secretly distributed as much of the church’s riches to the poor as he could. On the fateful third day Lawrence came to the royal court with several of the poor, the crippled and the blind, and presented them to the emperor. He pronounced these broken men and women as the true treasures of the church.

Ha! The audience roars, the comedian shakes himself in glee, the Christian weeps with joy at this great turnabout truth. But really, Lawrence did not have long to laugh, being sent quickly to a human-sized gridiron to be burned. His martyrdom took place today, on August 10, 258.

Blessed is the man who is gracious and lends to those in need. It will be well with the man who conducts his affairs with justice; he shall not be moved, and an evil report he shall not fear.

Legend gives us Lawrence’s words after some time on the fire: “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!” So for our upstairs friends Andrew and Kyle, it’s heartening to know that Saint Lawrence is the patron saint of cooks, chefs and comedians.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.

What I want to know is how could Kyle’s car break-in have possibly happened in Austin? In 1940 the Works Progress Administration published a guidebook of Texas written as part of the Federal Writers’ Project. Of Austin it was written:

Austin wears a mantle of dignity. It is a tranquil city, with an air of serenity, decorum and permanence, that dwarfs the temporary turbulences of its political life.

There are still notes of tranquility in the air at times. But of course there is another side to Austin history, and more discordant notes often sound here today as well:

By the 1840s Austin was an incorporated town of 856 persons. It was a lively place politically. President Lamar lived in a pretentious two-story building, while his political enemy, Sam Houston, resided in a shanty with a dirt floor on Congress Avenue, where he received men of affairs and hurled derision at the President and his followers.

In time their positions were reversed, and in any case both politicians could have used the patronage of Saint Lawrence now and then. Today there are more than a million Austinites, and all of them (us) need a good dose of that Catholic sense of humor, many more days than not.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will be my servant also.

(2 Corinthians 9, Psalm 112, John 8, John 12)

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