Our homilies, should not be sermons that wander all over the place. Rather, they should highlight the beautiful lessons in that day’s readings. Today I am going to break the rule.
I have been doing some research on Martin Luther’s break with the Catholic Church. I had noted that he took his stand in 1520, and how the church replied to him at the Council of Trent in 1545. Then, I started wondering what caused that twenty-five years delay in answering Luther.
I found that there was great turbulence during those twenty-five years, with most of it brought on by the rivalry between the king of France and the king of Spain.
Back then, Spain had owned part of northern Italy, including the city of Milan. In 1523 Francis I of France led an army into northern Italy to snatch Milan, but Charles V of Spain had thirty thousand mercenaries waiting for him. They captured Francis, sending him off to imprisonment in Madrid.
Things got worse in Italy when Charles hadn’t the money to pay his mercenaries. Like those ISIS bands roving around Europe now, those mercenaries became cut throats, and they did something I had never heard about.
Those mercenaries sacked Rome, stabling their horses in St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel. After ripping apart most of the treasures of the High Renaissance, they turned on the people. They reduced the population from 55,000 to 10,000. The bodies they left rotting in the streets brought on deadly diseases.
That was part of what took us so long in answering Luther.