Let us lectio: As one who serves
Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Sept. 3, 2019
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the Gospel for Sept. 3, 2019, Memorial of St. Gregory the Great (Luke 22:24-30)
An argument broke out among the Apostles about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
Jesus said to them,"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as Benefactors'; but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Christ is made present in many ways among His people, and in a particular way through His priests, as they are called to be conformed to Him. Through these men, Christ stands and walks among us as the One who serves. Such a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose vocation is to be “conformed to Christ the head” — the same head of Christ who willingly ascended Golgotha, bore the crown of thorns, and endured the spittle and ridicule of the unmerciful.
Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, they are called to be conformed to His sacrifice on the cross in a unique way. In this spirit, St. Gregory was called out of the solitude of the monastery, out of the support of the community of his brother monks. However, he agreed to serve the Church with his gifts. He sacrificed His own desires in service to the Church. But once he was called, he put his remarkable energy to work.
In doing so he instituted many reforms, from emptying the papal reserve to give to the poor, to ensuring enforcement of disciplinary measures. Gregory even made some changes to the prayers and music of the Mass. He is remembered especially for his contribution to our musical heritage with Gregorian Chant. Certainly, these changes were difficult and even painful for some to execute.
The Church prays for the Lord to send His people good pastors, like St. Gregory, and the Church prays for their continued faithfulness to God and strength of character. She prays on behalf of these pastors for she knows the struggles will be many; they will find enemies from outside its walls and resistance within its boundaries.
We are all called to live a life of sacrificial love. Those called to the sacrament of holy orders and to consecrated life are in their own way called to do so on behalf of Christ and His Church. Of these, pastors are given an additional charge of caring for the souls of the faithful.
The Church knows from experience that good saints, be they pastors or not, do not make everyone happy. Their work and their presence can often be challenging and convicting. But neither saints nor pastors are given to the Church for her comfort and ease. Their ultimate purpose, which we all share with them, is to be happy with God in heaven and to bring as many others as they can along the way.
But this task is not easy. This work is often unwelcome to those who do not wish the kingdom of God to be truly present in the world. But a faithful person is one who stands by Christ through His trials as a sign of their covenantal relationship with Christ through Baptism.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is a regular contributor to the North Texas Catholic.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.