Readings for Gregory the Great: March 12
“So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10: 42 – 44)
Our Lord Jesus flips the understanding of leader upside down. The closer one is to the top, the more of a servant one should become.
Today we remember Gregory the Great. “Gregory’s pontificate was one of strenuous activity. He organized the defense of Rome against the attacks of the Lombards and fed its populace from papal granaries in Sicily. In this, as in other matters, he administered “the patrimony of St. Peter” with energy and efficiency. His ordering of the Church’s liturgy and chant has molded the spirituality of the Western Church until the present day. Though unoriginal in theology, his writings provided succeeding generations with basic texts, especially the Pastoral Care, a classic on the work of the ministry. In the midst of all his cares and duties, Gregory prepared and fostered the evangelizing mission to the Anglo-Saxons under Augustine and other monks from his own monastery. The Venerable Bede justly called Gregory “The Apostle of the English.” Gregory died on March 12, 604, and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. His life was a true witness to the title he assumed for his office: “Servant of the servants of God.”” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for March 12)
Gregory’s contribution of chant and hymnody has contributed greatly to our worship. This is probably why the crafters of his biography included biblical writings that included the importance of music as in 1 Chronicles 25:1 – 8 and the verses 6 – 7 of Psalm 57. Music was important to Gregory.
My biggest take-away is his personal identifier as “Servant of the servants of God.” He spared no means of helping his people, especially in times of famine or war. Today that means assisting people with their needs in carrying out God’s love to the world. As our Lord Jesus says in our Gospel reading from Mark, “we must be a servant, and even servant of all.” This reminds me of the Foot Washing in the Gospel of John. This is about being nice to people in their need and comforting them in order that they might go out and do the same. It is the loving and sacrificial Spirit of our Lord Jesus working in us.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John