Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Gregory. These are the four great doctors of the Western Church. Called great because their insight about the Gospel as a living organism which could, when properly understood, interpreted and preached, influence people of every generation, the Greats of the Christian West have left a lasting imprint on the church.
Gregory, like so many others saints, lived fully in the world in his early days, but after five years as prefect of Rome, lost confidence in the society to direct or discipline itself. Hoping the monastic life would give him some clarity about how to live the Gospel, he joined the Benedictines, but shortly thereafter the Pope sent him to Constantinople as his representative.
A success in Constantinople, he was called back to Rome, and elected abbot of the Benedictines. Walking through Rome one day he chanced upon a group of young Anglo Saxon boys who were being offered for sale. Moved by their plight and his conversation with them, he went to England with the hope of implanting the Gospel, but because of the upset of the Roman people, he was recalled to Rome and soon afterwards was elected Pope at the age of fifty.
Straightforward and scrupulously honest, Pope Gregory disciplined wayward priests, used monies from the papal treasury to care for Jews and the sick, and reformed the liturgy. but it was his instructions to bishops on how to conduct their office, read for a thousand years, that sealed his place among the Greats of the Christian community.
It is with profound sorrow we have to admit that though the harvest is great, the labourers are few, because, though the people are ready to hear the Word of God, there are few to preach it. Lo, the world is full of priests, yet in the harvest of the Lord a labourer is very rare, for we undertake, it is true, the office of the priest hood, but its duties we do not fulfill. Yet weigh well, dearly beloved, weigh well the words of the text: "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He send labourers into His harvest." Pray then for us that we may have strength to labour for you as we ought, that our tongue may not be slack to exhort, and that, having undertaken the office of preaching, our silence may not prove our condemnation at the tribunal of the just Judge. (Homily of St Gregory)Today, dare to be great in Christ.
What most keeps you from the living the Gospel with abandon?