Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lk 17:1-6 Blessed The Little Ones, Like Popes

Memorial of St. Leo the Great
(Click here for readings)


Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Pope Leo the Great. I have to admit, sometimes when I hear the names of saints from a very long time ago in homilies, I tune it out. This pope did such and such in this century, this bishop did such and such in this century, he crushed this heresy and that heresy—I am sure you have experienced a similar sentiment at some point during your life as a Christian. However, for some reason (call it the promptings of the Holy Spirit), I decided to read some of what Pope Leo the Great had written in his time—popes write a lot of good things, right? So right. What’s even better is that ninety percent of his writings point back to this Gospel reading—lucky me. But I’ll get to that in a little bit.
If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. What is forgiveness? What is it to be reconciled to your brother? I feel like the word is thrown around a lot among Christians. Somebody gossiped about you? Forgive them.Somebody burned your house down? Well, Jesus said to forgive, so you should do it, right? Dealing with difficult people in a spirit of reconciliation is much easier said than done. There are a lot of “logistical” questions that go along with it, too: Should we expect others to apologize before we forgive them? Is it more of an internal feeling or an external act? Does it apply to everything?

Reconciliation is a very romantic word, but as it pertains to everyday life, it is a much more difficult concept than it would appear. People are just plain difficult sometimes. I would like to say that I know all the answers, but the fact is, I came up with those questions because I ask myself them all the time. It is something I struggle with, and I am sure a lot of you as Christians struggle with as well. I don’t have the answers, but the Church has an incredible example in Pope Leo the Great. He must have had some magic power of reconciliation-- I mean, the guy got Attila the Hun, nicknamed “the scourge of God,” to turn back from his invasion of Italy! By a diplomatic meeting!

Pope Leo the Great lived in a time of the early Church which was plagued by heresies. At one point, Pelagianism(which rejects the concept of original sin) and Manachaeism(which says that there is a “good” God and an “evil” God) had infiltrated the Church up to the ranks of bishops. Secret societies of these heresies were hidden in nearly every community. Imagine being a faithful Pope, watching your Church (which was handed down to you from Jesus Christ, don’t forget) be plagued with errors so contrary to truth as these!

How could you not be enraged? This is Pope Leo’s legacy: that regardless of the gravity of sins being committed in his church, he always responded with a spirit of compassion and reconciliation. And what do you know, he won more times than not! Against armed barbarians, nonetheless! He was the key factor in restoring unity to the Church in a very tumultuous time. I’ll let you read for yourself.

One time, he wanted to urge secret societies to abandon their heresies. Instead of condemning them, he said, "Christians,recognize your dignity. Now that you share in God's own nature, do not return to your former base by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God."

In response to heretics, he calmly asserted the authority of his teachings, writing, Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in hisgoodness has given this to man…”

But yet, he was still faithful to the letter of the law. He didn’t compromise on the truth. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. This blessedness, dearly beloved, does not derive from any casual agreement … but it pertains to the words of the prophet: Those who love your law shall enjoy abundant peace; for them it is no stumbling block.”

This was a saint who believed in love of the law and of others. There are too many Christians today that seem to love the law but still don’t love their brothers and sisters.  We are called to love both, and St. Pope Leo the Great is a great example of this. His exhortations were always paired with a reassurance, his challenges with a kind word. And it clearly worked.

Let’s ask the Lord to let us share in this spirit of reconciliation.

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