Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate the feast day of a great saint of the Church, that is Pope St. Gregory the Great, one of the great popes of the early Church, who was one of the few Popes who was given and truly deserved the title ‘the Great’, all because of his works and dedications to the Church of God, as the great reformer who brought great changes to the practices of the Church in ways that benefitted countless souls and helped them on their path to redemption.
Pope St. Gregory the Great was born in Italy at a time of difficulty when the civilised world was under great trouble after the fall of the Roman Empire in the Western regions of Europe including Italy. The Roman Empire in the East managed to reclaim Italy, but it led to a long series of conflicts and warfare that characterised the early life and indeed much of the life of Pope St. Gregory the Great.
Pope St. Gregory was renowned to be a very great and prolific writer, whose numerous works and writings had inspired countless faithful, brought countless souls back from the brink of damnation, and had also been of a very great impact to the development of the faith in the Church, as well as in terms of the liturgy of worship in the Church. He took part in rejuvenating and reforming many parts of the worship, to make them proper and truly worthy of the Lord in various aspects, including rites and music.
What we know now as the Gregorian Chant can in fact be attributed partly to its namesake, that is none other than Pope St. Gregory himself, he who reformed the ways that Church music was used, and how eventually this beautiful liturgy of worship then developed throughout the many centuries between him and us, and become essentially what we know as the Mass of the Ages, or the Mass of the Tridentine Roman Rite, a Mass and celebration of the liturgy in perfect beauty and worship worthy of the Lord.
Pope St. Gregory the Great also wrote extensively on various topics, on the various aspects of the faith, and he also took part in the defense against heresies and schisms before he was elected the Pope of the Church. He did many good works, the results of which is that the rejuvenation and empowerment of the Church and its teachings on the faith, which brought light and hope to mankind living in darkness and despair after the fall of the Roman civilisation.
He was thus known, along with St. Augustine as one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, especially in the western regions of Christendom, and the legacies of his work can still be easily and clearly felt, both in his successor, the Pope we have today, and the heart of the Church in Rome, where Pope St. Gregory was once the Bishop of, and finally throughout the entire Universal Church itself, particularly in his writings and in his reforms on the celebration of the sacred liturgy.
All of these are to remind us, in accordance with what we heard in the Scripture readings today. Jesus cast out demons in His mission, and those demons tremblingly obeyed the commands of He who is God, and He who is the Word of. God made flesh in Jesus, and He who holds all the authority over all heaven and earth. And God is the One who made all things possible, including all possibilities for us, and the growth of our faith.
We mankind are easily lured away from the path of truth, that is away from the path of the Lord, the path towards salvation. Sin is the tool that Satan used in his continuous and tireless efforts to lure mankind away from salvation and into eternal damnation with him. That is why, the Lord who loves us wants to save us, by sending unto us Jesus, His own Son, to redeem us from the power and dominion of these evil spirits.
Jesus meant business when He came into the world, to heal the afflicted and the oppressed sons and daughters of men from the tyranny and dominion of Satan and his allies. He brought fear to the forces of darkness, which had been for long unchallenged and supreme in their control and grip over mankind. His words is power, and He brought healing and salvation to all those who had been long gripped and enslaved in darkness, bringing them back into the light.
God is truly indeed the One who made all things possible. It is through Him that all things are made possible and real, and through the help of the actions of the disciples and Apostles of our Lord, their successors, the bishops and the priests we have today, we receive this same truth which had been revealed through Jesus and what He had done.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, then what had Pope St. Gregory the Great done in order to relate to these Scripture readings which we heard today? Pope St. Gregory the Great had reformed, established and standardised the ways of worship in the Church, creating a golden standard upon which the later generations would look back upon for reference and guide. Pope St. Gregory not only contributed in terms of his voluminuous writings and letters that helped the faithful to grow stronger in their faith, but also through his works in bringing the heaven itself, the glory of God to earth.
For indeed, the Holy Mass itself can be likened to the heavens brought down to earth, the glories of heaven and the majesty of God brought into our humble abode, no matter how gloriously decorated it is, to house the very Real Presence of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Eucharist, which is truly the heart and the centrepiece of the Mass. The Mass is the Sacrifice of our Lord, in which we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, when He single-handedly took all of our sins at once, and became the lamb of sacrifice to make us whole again.
Therefore, in essence, the celebration of the Holy Mass itself is a celebration of this very important and crucial moment in our history, and indeed, in the history of all creations. We are celebrating something divine and not something of the world. And thus, a proper and fitting celebration and way of worship is necessary, as a way for us humble men to glorify and praise our Lord who gave Himself for us, to rebuke Satan forever and get us out of the dominion of evil into the light.
Thus, Pope St. Gregory the Great acted similarly to what St. Paul, Apollos and the many other disciples of our Lord, by sowing the seeds of the Lord on fertile soil and helping these seeds to grow by nurturing them and providing for them. Those seeds of faith, hope and love have been planted by the Lord in our hearts, and it is up to us all to allow them to grow and bear fruit. And Pope St. Gregory the Great, together with numerous other saints and holy people of God made this possible.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on our lives and on our actions, on whether we have lived our lives according to the will of God, and to the way which our Lord Jesus had shown us. Indeed, there will be challenges along the way, as Satan and his allies certainly would not waste their time to attack and assault us in any way possible. But if we remain vigilant and strong, we will be able to resist them and remain true to the Lord?
And how can we do this? None other than through prayer, charity and total devotion to the Lord through our complete and total participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Prayer helps us to establish a crucial link with our Lord and God so that we may know His will for us, that we may live more closely according to His ways. And charity helps us to live our faith that we may have a real, concrete and living faith based on our actions and deeds, and not just by empty belief alone.
And lastly, as Pope St. Gregory the Great had initiated and done, we have to have a very great respect and good attitude towards the celebration of the Holy Mass, in which we have to see it as the celebration of the sacrifice of heaven, the very ultimate sacrificial act of our Lord Jesus, who gave His own Body and Blood for us, that all of us who take part in Him may be saved and gain eternal life.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore from now on, let us participate fully in the Mass, not by distracting others and ourselves from the Lord, as participation does not equal loud music, loud prayers or excessive gestures. Instead, let us understand the importance of the liturgy of worship and follow what our ancestors and our fathers in faith used to do. In that, our faith will grow, and from there too, the seeds of our love will germinate, grow and produce rich fruits.
May Almighty God bless us all, protect us and guide us on our way in this life, so that we may remain ever faithful, and that we may bear real and living fruits of our faith and love, both for our fellow men and for our Lord. May all of us be gathered together and be empowered with strength to overcome the challenges and the temptations of the world made by Satan to hinder us. May God be with us all, forever and ever. Amen.