One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

September 03, 2009

For the Feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great, September 3

Luke 22:24-30

Several things in Pope St. Gregory’s life seem to have been foreshadowed in the various details of this particular Gospel.
In this Gospel, the Apostles argued “about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.”
In St. Gregory’s day, the bishop in Constantinople was trying to give himself a relatively new patriarchal status greater than that of older, Apostolic, patriarchal churches in the East.
St. Gregory, as the Patriarch of Rome, answered the controversy by coining the description of his own status as “The Servant of the Servants of God.”
Also in the Gospel today, Jesus tells the Apostles that the greatest, the leader, is to be as a table servant to others.
St. Gregory himself used to serve daily meals to the poor.
He did this even though he was both the pope and the civil administrator of the Roman empire in Italy.
By political title, by Church title, by example and hard work, St. Gregory was the greatest man in the Roman empire of his day.
On this day, the third of September, in the year of our Lord 590, Gregory, the prefect or viceroy of the Roman empire in Italy, became pope.
It was a troubled time.
The Roman emperor had abandoned Italy to go live across the sea in Constantinople.
The Lombard tribes were invading Italy from the North, bringing death, poverty, but also a falsified version of Christ and of the Christian faith.
St. Gregory spoke out constantly for the poor and the victims of violence.
St. Gregory— imperial viceroy, pope, soup kitchen worker, and international diplomat— also lived as a monk, scholar, and teacher.
He organized the evolving Roman Church ceremonies and liturgy of his day.
He promoted as part of the liturgy the form of chant that has come to be called Gregorian chant in his honor.
He sent a band of monks as missionaries to Britain.
He wrote the lives of saints, including the only biography we have of St. Benedict, who died when St. Gregory was a child.
St. Gregory was also a man of prayer and a man of Scripture.
One of his insights concerning devotion to and study of Scripture surely comes out of his own experience.
St. Gregory said, “Scripture grows with the reader.”
The Holy Spirit breathed within the hearts and minds of the human authors instrumental in revealing God through the words of the Scriptures.
As the reader himself grows in the Spirit, so too grows his recognition of the Spirit of revelation contained in the text of Scripture.
Such growth— all Christian growth— requires conversion, penance, prayer, charity, study and worship.
St. Gregory’s insight can serve us as we now celebrate God’s revelation of himself here in the liturgy.
The liturgy can grow for us, if we grow for it.
We must bring to the liturgy our daily and lifelong efforts of conversion, study, penance, worship, prayer and charity.
Together with St. Gregory, we turn to worship Christ our Lord and Master, who approaches now to serve at the table and altar of his Eucharist.
Here, the Most Holy One takes upon his innocent self the punishment for the sins of the twelve tribes of Israel and the sins of all the tribes of our human race.
The Great One serves up himself as the saving food and drink of eternal life for sinners and as a living sacrifice of praise to the honor and glory of the Father.
He is in our midst as one who serves— serving as the “Servant of the Servants of God His Father.”

That God Be Glorified in All



Particularly Brilliant today Father. I named my first-born son after Saint Pope Gregory the great.

7:32 PM  

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