A Daily Readings Reflection
by Deacon Mike Manno
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
32nd week in Ordinary Time: Memorial of St. Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the Church
Today’s readings from Paul’s letter to Titus and the Gospel of Luke are connected but perhaps not in a manner that is readily apparent. In Titus we are given directions for living a Christian life, and in doing so Paul directs his comments specifically to individual categories of the faithful: Older men, older women, especially on training younger women, and younger men. And yet while some of the things Paul suggests that are “consistent with sound doctrine” may sound a bit antiquated by today’s standards, they were the usual practices of his day. In a simplistic fashion, he gave us a guideline to develop the basis of strong families and Christian living.
The bottom line, I think, is this: Each of us has specific responsibilities according to our station in life (teacher, minister, parent, etc.) and it is incumbent on each one of us to perform those duties and responsibilities with the means we have available.
Similarly in the Gospel, Jesus is telling his disciples not to expect earthly rewards for doing what our duty calls us to do. He asks, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take our place at the table?’” Here the servant’s job was to perform certain jobs for his master as part of his employment and his reward is the proper payment for his duties, not dining privileges with his master. The point here is that we should strive to perform our daily tasks to the best of our ability without the expectation of additional rewards. We are, as Jesus says, “Unprofitable servants, we have done what we were obliged to do.”
Much of our lives are filled with routine and sometimes mundane tasks that seem to us to be about very minor things. The readings today tells us how important those little things are and that we are required to do them in charity and to the best of our ability so that we, too, can say “we have done what we were obliged to do.” Our reward for doing well those things we are obligated to do will follow in God’s kingdom.
Today we celebrate Pope St. Leo, the first pope given the title “the Great.”
St. Leo the Great was a very well-known deacon and had become a successful diplomat. When Pope Sixtus III died in 440, Leo was on a diplomatic mission but was unanimously elected pope and became known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church.
During his pontificate some Eastern Christians began questioning the teaching of the Church concerning the relationship between Jesus' humanity and his divinity. Leo resolved the controversy articulating the Church's official teaching on Jesus as one person with a human and a divine nature which could not be separated.
But perhaps he is best known for meeting with Attila the Hun, whose army in 452 had invaded Italy sacking its cities and was poised to attack Rome. Leo went out to meet Attila. No one knows what was said between the two men, but when their meeting ended, Attila and his army turned away and Rome was spared.