September 3, 2016

Gregory the Great

September 3, 2016:  St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor

  • 'Question mark' pin:  Questions:  Who confers distinction upon you?  What do you have that you haven't received?  Why are you boasting about it?  (1st reading)  Why are you doing what's unlawful?  Didn't you read how David shared the priests' bread?  (gospel)
  • 'Angel' pin:  We've become a spectacle to angels and men. (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  We toil, working with our hands. (1st reading)
  • 'Grain' pin:  Jesus was going through a field of grain, and his disciples were picking and eating the heads. (gospel)
  • White in shirt:  color of St. Gregory memorial

  • Salve Regina Gregorian chant in honor of St. Gregory and Our Lady [Queen] of the Angels
God's love “never ends” or diminishes; it remains youthful, active, dynamic, faithful, fruitful, with an attraction beyond all telling.  We're witnesses to it.  It comes towards us like a swelling river that engulfs without overwhelming.  The more we allow ourselves to be taken up by this love, the more our life will be renewed.
The love Paul speaks of isn't abstract or vague; it's seen, touched, and experienced.  The greatest and most expressive form of it is Jesus, whose person and life are the concrete revelation of the Father’s love, reaching its highest expression on the Cross.  From Calvary flows love that wipes sin away and transforms everything into new life.  Christ “loved me and gave himself for me.”  Nothing and no one can separate us from God's love.  Love is the highest expression of life!
The Church can't allow herself to ignore need; she can't turn her back on the poverty that cries out for mercy.  Don't pretend to have a clean conscience just because you said your prayers!   Calvary is real; it hasn't disappeared.  That compassion, from which God's love flows to human misery, still speaks to us and impels us to offer new signs of mercy.  God's mercy is concrete action, and human mercy isn't authentic till it's attained tangible expression in our daily actions.  “Let us not love in word and speech but in deed and truth.”  Mercy is expressed in our daily gestures that make God’s action visible.
You volunteer workers are among the most precious things the Church has, giving shape and visibility to mercy.  You express the heart's noble desire to make a suffering person feel loved.  In different contexts of need, your presence is Christ's hand held out to, and reaching, all.  Your service to the abandoned, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the unemployed, the elderly, the homeless, prisoners, refugees, immigrants, and disaster victims conveys the Church's credibility convincingly.  Your active, selfless witness is found wherever people cry for help.  In bearing one another’s burdens, you make Christ’s law visible.  Always be ready to be close to others, to awaken joy and give comfort.  The world needs concrete signs of solidarity, especially when tempted to indifference.  Defy such individualism.  Be happy and joyful in your service, but don't presume you're superior; let your work of mercy humbly continue the presence of Jesus who bends down to take care of the suffering.  Love “builds up,” daily helping our communities to be signs of communion.
Tomorrow we'll have the joy of seeing Mother Teresa proclaimed a saint.  This witness to mercy will join the array of those who have made Christ's love visible.  Let us imitate them as we ask to be God's humble instruments to alleviate suffering and share the joy and hope of the resurrection.
Wordle: Readings 9/6/14
  • 1 Cor 4:6b-15  Why boast if you've received everything that's yours?  God has exhibited us as last of all, like people sentenced to death; we're a spectacle, fools on Christ’s account, weak, held in disrepute, hungry, thirsty, poorly clad, roughly treated, homeless.  When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently.  We've become like rubbish, scum.  I became your father in Christ through the Gospel.
  • Ps 145:17-21  "The Lord is near to all who call upon him."  He hears their cry and saves them.  The Lord is just in his ways and holy in his works.
  • Lk 6:1-5  Jesus' disciples were picking and eating heads of grain on a sabbath.  Pharisees / Jesus:  “Why are you doing what's unlawful?” / “Recall when David's men were hungry he shared the priests' bread of offering from the house of God?  The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great

    • Creighton:  Jesus wanted the Sabbath to be a time out, a chance to grow through prayer and reflection.  He saw the Sabbath as a chance to join rather than divide; he understood the power of sharing a meal together.  We deepen our relationship with God in and through breaking bread.  Jesus' love for us is exemplified through the desire for a Sabbath that's not about hierarchy, power, and control; it's a time we can grow in peace and goodness.  We need to make time for God.  May I honor Jesus' wish for the Sabbath.  Help me to partake in the meal God has set before me.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "A great contest of suffering":  Paul repeatedly published lists of Christians' sufferings.  Christians should expect to be treated as the world's garbage.  Our sufferings with and for Christ show us there's joy and power in redemptive suffering.  Don't be afraid of suffering, or you'll be afraid to live, die, and love.
    •  "The Son of man is lord of the Sabbath":  The religious leaders confronted Jesus about the Sabbath.  The Sabbath rest was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate the goodness of God and his work.  It was a day set apart to praise God and his work of creation and salvation, to stop work and provide rest and refreshment.  The scribes and Pharisees scold Jesus for what he does on the Sabbath.  Jesus argues that human need has precedence over ritual custom.  The Pharisees' zeal for ritual observance blinded them from the demands of charity.  Jesus' reference to the bread of the Presence alludes to the true Bread from heaven.  Jesus healed on the Sabbath and showed mercy to those in need....

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