Nov 10 – Memorial for St. Leo the Great, pope, doctor
Leo (c.400 – 461) was born of Italian nobility. He was a strong student, especially in scripture and theology. As a priest, he was an eloquent writer and homilist.
He was pope from 440-461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun. When Attila marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to St. Peter, it is generally believed that the first pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns. When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo’s sanctity and eloquence saved the city again.
Pope Leo called the Council of Chalcedon to condemn the heresies of the day, which were Nestorianism (Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son), Monophysitism (Christ’s human nature ceases to exist when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it), Manichaeism (Gnostic system resting on a dualistic concept of the world’s structure), and Pelaianism (no supernatural grace is needed for one to choose good).
He built churches and wrote letters and sermons encouraging and teaching the flock, many of which survive today. It is for these writings that Leo was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1574.
“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.” – Pope St. Leo the Great
– Patron Saint Index
My brothers, I am quite certain that you are full of good intentions, perfectly well instructed and able to advise each other. The reason why I have written to you, and put some things rather strongly, is to refresh your memories, since God has given me this special position. He has appointed me as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am to carry out my priestly duty by bringing the Good News from God to the pagans, and so make them acceptable as an offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
I think I have some reason to be proud of what I, in union with Christ Jesus, have been able to do for God. What I am presuming to speak of, of course, is only what Christ himself has done to win the allegiance of the pagans, using what I have said and done by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus all the way along, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have preached Christ’s Good News to the utmost of my capacity. I have always, however, made it an unbroken rule never to preach where Christ’s name has already been heard. The reason for that was that I had no wish to build on other men’s foundations; on the contrary, my chief concern has been to fulfil the text: Those who have never been told about him will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”
Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”
‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.’
Being wasteful with his property
The parable of the dishonest steward has stumped me for a long time. Why would the master praise the steward for his astuteness? Didn’t he just ‘double cross’ his boss again, using his boss’ resource for his very own gain? How is that astute? I would have kicked his butt up to high heaven.
However, if we understand that everything we have and own comes as a gift from God, then we are simply stewards and God is the owner of all things. So be it wealth, talent or time, we are called to be good stewards and use these to benefit others.
When I was in my 20s and 30s, I had plans for everything in life. And most of my career and financial goals fell into place. I was really pleased with myself, feeling that I had done well. At that young age, it was all about me. But as I grew older, I had to be responsible for my family, as most of you are. And as I grew in my faith journey, I began to see that it was God who gave me all I needed, it was not by my own steam.
One incident that showed His providence remains vivid on my mind. It was during a most trying period – I was extremely busy at work. I was in the midst of moving homes, finding a suitable temporary rental and renovating a new one. To top it all, my helper was due for her trip home and my wheelchair-bound dad needed a place to go. 2 weeks before everything had to happen, I still hadn’t sorted out anything. The date was looming and I was panic-stricken. I prayed so hard to God and in his mercy, He found me the perfect apartment that would allow dad to move around freely. He also led me to a Catholic nursing home which dad was happy with. It isn’t just that he gave me the solutions to my problems; He also provided me with the means to do those things. For the first time in my life, I learnt that I cannot control everything. He does. And it is He who provides. Not by my own efforts.
God can give us what we need today, and if we are not good stewards, He can quite quickly take it from us. Brothers and sisters, you may be blessed with wealth, a good job, health and talents.
But are you good stewards of his gifts? Are you thinking that this is all from your own efforts? Are you making good use of all that you have to benefit others?
Whatever we possess today is a responsibility. How we use them is test of character, values and stewardship. So if we have not been trustworthy in handling possessions that produce unrighteousness, who will trust us with true riches?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: God, giver of all good things, help us to remember that everything we have and possess comes from you. Help us to be good stewards of the gifts and talents that you have given us, for the benefit of others, especially those in need. Teach us to be humble and giving.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for everything you have blessed us with today. Let us not take anything for granted.