Thursday, November 10, 2016

Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, pope

(Philemon 7-20; Luke 17:20-25)

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.  It was their first championship in more than one hundred years.  One Cub fan said when they won the final game, “Now I can die in peace.” He probably did not realize that he was paraphrasing Simeon in the Gospel of Luke.  When Simenon sees the infant Jesus in the Temple, he says: “’Now you may dismiss your servant in peace, O Lord…For my eyes have seen your salvation.’”  Unknowingly the Cub fan was confusing a baseball championship with Jesus, the world’s salvation.

In today’s gospel Jesus predicts that there will be false saviors.  People will think that the Chicago Cubs or the Republican Party or winning the lottery is somehow going to save them from all that is evil in the world.  But only Jesus can do that because he is the Son of God whose obedience unto an unseemly death has reconciled humanity with the Father.  We now await his return to give the fullness of life to his followers.

Today we celebrate St. Leo the Great.  He was probably as much aware of the centrality of Jesus to human salvation as anyone.  Leo lived in the fifth century when the relationship of Jesus’ divinity to his humanity was debated.  He derived an understanding that was accepted by the bishops at the Council of Chalcedon.  Jesus is a divine person with both a divine and human nature.  Because he is divine, his sacrifice on the cross is salvific.  Because he is human, it redeems the whole human race.