Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church
(I Corinthians 3:18-23; Luke 5:1-11)
St. Gregory the Great ranks high on any list of great popes. After saving Rome from devastation by the Lombards, he was considered the city’s civil as well as spiritual leader. He took keen interest in providing for the poor with the revenue received from the lands the Church owned. He also had a hand in modifying the liturgy and in forming “Gregorian chant.” He preached extremely well and wrote important books on morality and pastoral care. Most remarkably, with all these accomplishments Gregory maintained a humble demeanor. His manner is reminiscent of his predecessor in today’s gospel.
Witnessing the great catch of fish catalyzed by Jesus’ holiness, Simon falls before him. He must admit to Jesus his unworthiness. “’… I am a sinful man,’” he says openly, hoping that his confession would mitigate the Lord’s judgment. But Jesus has no intention of punishing Simon. In fact, he means to convert the sinner’s strengths into resources for evangelization.
St. Gregory confessed openly that he did not always fulfill his responsibilities with due diligence. But he still led the Church faithfully. He saw himself how each of us should see herself or himself, “The servant of the servants of the Lord.”