Pope Leo the Great and the End of the World

When will the final resolution come? When will the full splendor of truth appear, the axe of definitive justice fall, the striving of history end? When will everything make sense—all secrets revealed, all faithfulness rewarded, all injustices addressed and conflicts resolved?

When will God’s Kingdom come? After all, we pray every day that it would come, many times a day. “Thy kingdom come.” Does He hear our ceaseless prayers? When will this waiting end?

Pope St. Leo the Great died 1,550 years ago today, the day after the 137th anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral of Rome. Two hundred twenty popes have succeeded Leo in office since then. Has the world grown older than it should?

Perhaps Pope St. Leo earned the title “the Great” because he was chosen to lead during a time of enormous strife, and he rose to the occasion. He saved the Church from abandoning her faith in the Incarnation, and he saved the city of Rome from Attila the Hun.

But the irony of his title of greatness is the fact that Pope Leo exercised his office with stunning humility. He greeted each crisis that faced him by seeking the will of God. He never hesitated to risk his own life the sake of his people, and his teaching derives all its authority solely from its truth.

“Just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” We know neither the day nor the hour; we know only that the end will come. The humble man stands ready and waiting, gazing above him at the immeasurable power of God, trusting that God always knows what He is doing.

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