The First Reading is Paul’s instruction to Titus to remind older men, older women, young women and younger men on how to behave. He reminds them that Jesus Christ is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Jesus died to redeem us from sin. Redemption is a gift from God. Once redeemed, Jesus purifies us also for himself. Sanctification then is a work of Jesus. This means we are not immediately sanctified when we are redeemed. Sanctification is a process and Jesus does this for us so we can be his people zealous for good deeds. The death of Jesus is a one time event effective for all eternity. His death is a payment, a redemption for our sin. When we accept his gift of Jesus through faith, we are made children of God. But this also requires sanctification, which is a process. This sanctification requires this faith to be revealed through good works. Faith without good works is dead.
This is why, in the Gospel today, Jesus tells us we are worthless slaves who do only what we ought to have done. We do not deserve anything from God. God does not owe us anything. Our redemption is a gift from Jesus and our sanctification is work of God. When we allow God to work in our lives, the result is our doing good work, because we do what we are told to do. This is how we are purified by Christ. Christ can do this because of his divine and human nature which coexist without conflict nor confusion.
This teaching was resolved through a letter from Pope Leo to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the year 451 at the council of Chalcedon where they were discussing the two natures of Christ. At that time, there was an opinion from a priest called Eutyches who according to Pope Leo’s letter describes him as having no idea about the incarnation of the Word of God and having no desire to understand this through Scripture. Pope Leo then says Eutyches should have accepted the common creed which the whole body of the faithful confess that they believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. These words are similar to the Apostles’ Creed. The Pope proceeded to explain how Jesus had two natures and how they do not conflict in the Person of Jesus.
This letter is another proof of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all the Churches. Both Eutyches and Flavian wrote the Pope to resolve the conflict. Eutyches appealed to the Pope for his protection and Flavian to inform the Pope of the heresy of Eutyches. The question to ask is why would these two write to the Pope to intervene? Flavian’s letter in fact asks the Pope to make [Eutyches’] wickedness manifest to all the God-loving bishops who are under your reverence. The letter of the Pope in response to the letter of Flavian resolved the issue in the Council in Chalcedon.
We celebrated the Solemnity of the Dedication of St John Lateran yesterday, the Pope’s Cathedral to remind us of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all bishops, therefore of his headship of the Catholic Church. And today, this episode in the history of the Church proves that the primacy of the Pope is not a modern invention of Catholics, but has been a Tradition since the early Church.
Lord, let me believe you are Son of God and Son of Man, that your death redeemed me from this life of sin and your resurrection makes it possible for me to enter heaven. Sanctify me with your Holy Spirit so I can be zealous to do good works. St Leo the Great, pray for me, that I may know Jesus more. Pray for our Church, for our Pope, our Bishops and priests, that they may continue to preach the Truth of the Gospel and correct any errors.