Monday, November 9, 2009


“St. Leo the Great”
 Artist and Date were not cited.


Biographical Information about St. Leo the Great[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Leo the Great

Readings and Commentary:

Sirach 39:6-11

If it pleases the LORD Almighty,
he who studies the law of the Most High
will be filled with the spirit of understanding;
He will pour forth his words of wisdom
and in prayer give thanks to the LORD,
Who will direct his knowledge and his counsel,
as he meditates upon his mysteries.
He will show the wisdom of what he has learned
and glory in the law of the LORD'S covenant.
Many will praise his understanding;
his fame can never be effaced;
Unfading will be his memory,
through all generations his name will live;
Peoples will speak of his wisdom,
and in assembly sing his praises.

Commentary on
Sir 39:6-11

This section of Sirach (38:24-39:11) is devoted to the vocations of the craftsman and the scribe. In this passage he speaks of the vocation of the scribe or teacher of the faith. That person must devote all their energy to study of the Law, Wisdom and the Prophets. The scribe’s work will be guided by the spirit, to which they must be constantly open. Those who are successful will be remembered through all generations – a statement fulfilled in the memorialization of the saints.

Psalm 37:3-4,5-6,30-31

R. (30a) The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Trust in the LORD and do good
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will grant you your heart's requests.

R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Commit to the LORD your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.

R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

The mouth of the just tells of wisdom
and his tongue utters what is right.
The law of his God is in his heart,
and his steps do not falter.

R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
Commentary on
Ps 37:3-4,5-6,30-31

This selection of Psalm 37 (the main thrust or which is –evil is passing but God and His Law are eternal) exhorts the listener to trust in God and the “light” of truth will show the way of righteousness. The psalm appropriately extols the true teaching of God.

Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Commentary on
Mt 16:13-19

St. Matthew’s story of how Jesus asked about what people were saying about him has a profound impact on the Church. Here, when challenged by Jesus with the question, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon answers, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” The second title is not present in St. Mark’s version of this encounter. It adds an understanding that Jesus is not just the Messiah, but also the Son of God.

Given this response, Jesus confers upon Simon a new name “Kephas” which comes from the root Aramaic word Kepa or “Rock”. When translated into Greek it came out Petros and from there to Peter. The name, however, becomes the foundation for the Church and Peter, as a consequence of this exchange is given Christ’s authority, an authority that is passed down through Papal Succession to Pope Benedict XVI today.

CCC: Mt 16-18 1969; Mt 16:16-23 440; Mt 16:16 424, 442; Mt 16:17 153, 442; Mt 16:18-19 881; Mt 16:18 424, 442, 552, 586, 869; Mt 16:19 553, 1444

It is said among Church Historians that one of the most certain proofs that God does exist is that the Church has survived her own history. The finger-prints of the Father show up with amazing brilliance if one looks at how the world and the Evil One have tried repeatedly to destroy her. Into one such time came St. Leo the Great. A brother deacon, he was elevated to the papacy and fought valiantly through out his life (he passed to the next life on 10 November, 461) to maintain the unity of the Church in the face of a disintegrating secular structure and schismatic forces from within.

As always we look to the Saints to provide us with examples of how the Gospel is to be lived and to recall how God has favored us with servants who faithfully pass on the deposit of faith given to St. Peter by the Lord himself. In the case of St. Leo the Great, we see one who first sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit (as the son of Sirach enjoined us in the first reading). He sought and found God’s wisdom, epitomized in Christ Jesus and boldly proclaimed that Gospel, a unifying force that steered a true course through difficult times.

Today, we ask for the intercession of St. Leo the Great. We ask that God will give us the discipline and courage to be true to the faith that was passed to us through his Son. We pray also for the whole Church that the great bride of Christ might continue to shine as a beacon of hope for the world.


[1] The picture is “St. Leo the Great”, Artist and Date were not cited.
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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