Fr Richard's words for the Memorial of Pope Saint Leo the Great
One of the titles of the pope is “servus servorum Dei”, the “servant of the servants of God.” Therefore, it’s fitting that on the Memorial of one of the greatest popes in history the Gospel is about Jesus encouraging his disciples to recognise themselves as His servants.
The Lord says: ‘…When you have done all you have been told to do, say: “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’ Pope Saint Leo the Great most certainly did see himself as God’s humble servant and indeed as a pope in service of all the faithful. He considered it a privilege to be the Successor of Peter, recognising that it was the Lord’s work he was undertaking, and not his own.
Saint Leo was dedicated to the pastoral care of his people as Bishop of Rome. He instigated and helped to build charitable work in the city, particularly in service of the poor, the hungry and refugees. He defended his people from enemy attack by promoting peace. He defended the Catholic Faith from the heresies of the time – pelagianism (the incorrect notion that we can perfect ourselves without God’s grace) and manichaeism (which viewed everything material as evil). In response, he reinforced beautifully the dogma of the Incarnation, reiterating that Christ is One Person with a human and divine nature which cannot be separated. St Leo was fortified by a profound spiritual life, expressed in his wonderful sermons which are considered masterpieces.
Whatever our vocation in life, may we, like St Leo, take up our daily tasks of spreading the Catholic Faith and serving God, our family, and our neighbours. And may we work without seeking any plaudits, but with an understanding that it’s merely our duty to serve Christ, to carry out His work in the world.