September 3, 2008
Saint Gregory the Great
Luke 4: 38-44
After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, "You are the Son of God." But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ. At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent." And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, once again I renew my faith in you and in your presence within me as I begin the journey of prayer. I trust you will come to my side now and walk with me, because I need you so much. Lord, fill my heart with your love and teach me that true success is found in you alone.
Petition: Lord, convince me that true success comes from following you with perfection.
1. A Successful Attitude
Imagine Christ and his apostles arriving at Simon’s house after a long day of preaching and expelling demons at the local synagogue. They must have been hungry, exhausted, and in need of a breather. These men did not come home to a clean house and a nice dinner on the table, but rather to more problems and difficulties. It must have been similar to the scene of a tired husband or wife coming home after a stressful day of work to a tumultuous house. Nevertheless, under these circumstances Christ did not think of himself; rather, he thought of others and how he could heal them. This time it was Simon’s mother-in-law who received Christ’s healing touch, and she began to wait on him. What a great example our Lord gives us: thinking of others rather than himself and never complaining when faced with an adverse situation. Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours.
2. The Secret to Success
Maybe the secret to the success of Christ’s public life is found in these words: “At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.” St. Mark describes this scene as “very early in the morning, long before daylight” (Mark 1:35). Christ was so busy: the synagogue episode, healing Simon’s mother-in-law, and expelling demons late into the night; he deserved to sleep in the next morning! Nevertheless early in the morning, long before daylight, he left. He tiptoed around his sleeping apostles, who were sprawled out on the ground wherever they could find an open spot. He walked through the dark, empty streets of the town to the paths that led into the hills, where he found a quiet place he could be alone with his Father. His strength was not in sleep, but in prayer. This prayer pushed him on to complete his mission and save the world. “We pray as we live because we live as we pray” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2725).
3. A Successful Saint
Today we celebrate the feast of one of the greatest saints and popes in the history of the Church: St. Gregory the Great. St. Gregory had a zeal similar to that which Christ has in this passage. After the apostles find Christ in prayer, they remind him that he is the hit show in Capernaum and that everyone is looking for him. But Christ’s heart is not content with one town; he is focused on the big picture and desires to bring his saving message to many more souls. Today’s saint had this same zeal: “He lost no opportunity for the exercise of his missionary zeal, making every effort to root out paganism in Gaul, Donatism in Africa and the Schism of the Three Chapters in North Italy and Istria” as well as “the conversion of the heathen and in particular of the Angles” (Catholic Encyclopedia). Christ and St. Gregory the Great want to instill this zeal in my heart. The world needs me to exercise my missionary zeal not only with those in my family, but with everyone I meet and even to the ends of the earth.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, make my heart more like yours. Let my heart be moved with pity at the sight of so many souls far from you. Move my will to work hard for your Kingdom today, while remaining close to you and giving example with a holy life. I want to be a zealous missionary of your Church.
Resolution: Today I will face head-on one responsibility or problem I have been putting off. I will view it with faith and will complete it as Christ would want me to.
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