We are commemorating today one of the truly great popes of our church. He is called the Great because he was known for his charity, his sense of justice, and his political diplomacy - but perhaps even more so, Saint Gregory was known for his devotion to Christ and the Church. He urged us to study, saying, "I beg you study and meditate each day the words of God, for in so doing you would come to know the heart of Jesus."
In today's Gospel, Jesus said, "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."
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Once the Olympics were over, athletes who won medals returned home to applause and in some instances, parades! No so with Jesus. He returned home and joined others for a service in the synagogue. He rose to speak and said the spirit of the Lord had sent Him to bring glad tidings to the poor. There was no applause or parades. The reaction was mixed. Some were amazed that such words could come from His mouth since they remember Him as a young man, and they knew His parents, Joseph and Mary.
The threshold between life and death is a place of radical poverty. For popes and for princes, for celebrated millionaires and for unknown derelicts, death demands the same absolute dispossession that delivers the soul into the hands of God. Embracing such poverty is fearful and repugnant to many. For those who have exercised their hearts in the desire for heavenly things, however, it can be a moment of liberation and, even, of joy.
Last week Fr. Jim Lies and Fr. Willy dropped by my office. As I updated them about Father Peyton’s Cause for Sainthood, Fr. Lies asked me about my Mom and then said, "you know, our mothers are all candidates for sainthood." There was complete agreement.
The medieval world esteemed Saint Louis the ideal king. His parents’ influence was paramount in shaping him. His mother, Queen Blanche, took St. Louis to recite the services of the Divine Office and to attend two Masses each day. She took special care to instill in her young son the highest reverence for matters of virtue and religion.