Homilette for Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

(Hebrews 10:11-18; Mark 4:1-20)

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae makes the list of every scholar’s “Great books of Western Civilization.” Its combination of critical philosophical reasoning and acute theological sensitivity has engaged the best of thinkers for over six hundred years. But it is not easy to appreciate St. Thomas’ accomplishment. Partly out of the scholastic method and partly, perhaps, out of humility, Aquinas delivers astounding insights in an economy of words.

A perfect example of Aquinas’ ability to write profoundly and concisely is his application of the Scriptural passage used in today’s passage from the Letter to the Hebrews. Thomas calls the New or Evangelical Law the Holy Spirit’s presence in the hearts of the people Christ saves. For the redeemed, according to Thomas, law does not so much restrict from evil as it propels toward good.

Aquinas not only commented on the Holy Spirit; he also moved with the Spirit’s promptings. Out of apostolic zeal he crisscrossed Europe on foot sharing his wisdom with kings and common people as well as his beloved Dominicans. Besides academic tomes, Thomas composed religious hymns that are still in vogue. According to contemporaries, Thomas was approachable, patient, and kind. Although Thomas was probably not portly as stories have him, there certainly was much about him for us to imitate.