10 November, Tuesday — Being Role Models

Nov 10 – Memorial for St. Leo the Great, pope, doctor

St. Leo (c.400 – 461) was born of Italian nobility. He was a strong student, especially in scripture and theology. As a priest, he was an eloquent writer and homilist.

He was pope from 440-461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun. When Attila marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to St. Peter, it is generally believed that the first pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns. When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo’s sanctity and eloquence saved the city again.

Pope Leo called the Council of Chalcedon to condemn the heresies of the day, which were Nestorianism (Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son), Monophysitism (Christ’s human nature ceases to exist when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it), Manichaeism (Gnostic system resting on a dualistic concept of the world’s structure), and Pelaianism (no supernatural grace is needed for one to choose good).

He built churches and wrote letters and sermons encouraging and teaching the flock, many of which survive today. It is for these writings that Leo was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1574.

“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.” – Pope St. Leo the Great

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Titus 2:1-8,11-14
Luke 17:7-10

…be an example to them…

As young parents, we found it important to be able to ‘take a break’ from our children. One of the things we loved to do was to snack in our bedroom, and also to savour our sinful, and unhealthy, night-time supper of instant noodles.

On the other hand, we had been telling our children that they were not allowed to eat in their rooms; that whenever they wanted to eat something, they were to eat it in the dining room.

The day finally came when our kids would come into our room in the night…stop in their tracks… and say “I smell instant noodles”. Needless to say, it was not long before our ‘no-snacking-in-the-bedroom’ rule was thrown out the door.

In today’s First Reading, St Paul exhorted the elders in the community to be role models in the community. It was interesting that the elders who were asked to ‘preach’ not by speaking, or teaching, but by “being”, actually demonstrated the same behaviours that they wanted to pass on.

Like our own personal debacle with the snacking, St Paul recognised that true conversion can only happen when there is a consistent behaviour change. Jesus, too, warns us against just talking about our changes, but also talked about living these real changes.

This passage speaks to me in another way. We all face challenges in our own lives; some big, and others not so. Very often, when we hear what challenges others are going through, we tend to do this — we tell our friends to “not worry, and to trust God”. Yet, when we ourselves face our own crosses, what do we do? So many of us become (understandably) worried, but what is significant is that we try to wrest control of our lives from God. We bargain, we fight, and try our best to swing results to our own favour.

Brothers and sisters, I’m not saying that all of us should become passive and fatalistic. Instead, my personal opinion is that we should do our best in whatever situation, but continue to hold our faith that no matter what happens, everything works according to God’s will.

Let God’s will be my will.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may have complete trust in You, that no matter what happens, You will give us the strength to live through it all.

Thanksgiving We are grateful that You have given us a community of faith to journey with us, to learn from our role models so that we may continue on.


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