Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest

(II Samuel 6:12b-15.17-19; Mark 3:31-35)

St. Thomas Aquinas was born nearly eight hundred years ago in a society very different from our own.  Yet his ideas, which were not unappreciated in his time, remain the source of rich inquiry today.  Science, which seems so thoroughly modern, can find in Aquinas’ philosophical speculations much food for thought.  The Big Bang theory, for example, once thought avant-garde in the twentieth century, rests well with Aquinas’ metaphysical conclusions about a Creator who preexisted creation and continues to uphold in existence every one of the billions of galaxies spread across the universe along with their components.

But Aquinas’ understanding of such a comprehensive Creator did not conflict with his attention to a personal God.  Like the relation between gargantuan stars and infinitesimal sub-atomic particles, Aquinas accepted the biblical insight that God loves each item in His creation, especially – it needs to be added – the human person.  It might be said that Thomas saw the human being as the hinge between the big and the small that comprise the universe, and Jesus Christ as the link between God and the human person. 

Most often images of Aquinas show a sun beaming on his chest.  That sun represents Thomas himself.  His thought has enabled humans to see more clearly the relation between the created order and the God of faith.  At times it shines so brightly that it blinds.  That is the profundity of his thought which can leave our minds perplexed.  But the warmth of its rays can also console.  That is his understanding of Jesus Christ which helps us to locate our final hope in him.