Thursday, September 3 ~ Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Holy Gospel: Luke 5:1-11 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Meditation: The miracle in today’s Gospel shows us an important truth about how God works in and through each of us for his glory. God expects of us greater things than we can do by ourselves. When we cooperate in his works, we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, once wrote: “Jesus has so incomprehensible a love for us that he wills that we have a share with him in the salvation of souls. He wills to do nothing without us. The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of all his Blood.” When God’s word is spoken his kingdom is revealed and his divine power is made shown. When people respond to God’s word with faith and obedience they are changed and made “a new creation” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Prayer: O God, who care for your people with gentleness and rule them in love, through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory, endow, we pray, with a spirit of wisdom those to whom you have given authority to govern, that the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: The apostles were not saints from the get-go – they were men who worked hard and played hard and, as Simon Peter admits, sinful persons. But Jesus did not condemn them. Rather Jesus said “do not be afraid” and so they followed him. God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, sinners all, and uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into his kingdom. Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the Gospel.
About Pope Saint Gregory the Great: St. Gregory was born at Rome in 540. He was successively senator and prefect of Rome before the age of 30. After five years he resigned and became a monk, transforming his own house into a Benedictine monastery, and founding six others. At the age of 50 he was elected pope, serving from 590 to 604. In 14 years he accomplished much for the Mystical Body of Christ. After seeing English children being sold as slaves in Rome, he sent 40 monks, including St. Augustine of Canterbury, from his own monastery to make “the Angles angels.” England owes her conversion to him. He watched over the holiness of the clergy and the maintenance of Church discipline, the temporal interests of his people of Rome and the spiritual interests of all Christendom. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, and emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine. These deeds and others made him, in the words of an antiphon in his office, “the Father of the City, the joy of the World.” Gregory reformed the liturgy, and it still contains several of his most beautiful prayers. The name “Gregorian chant” recalls this great Pope’s work in the development of the Church’s music. His commentaries on Holy Scripture exercised a considerable influence on Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Saint Gregory died on March 12, 604; his body lies at Saint Peter Basilica in Rome.