Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church
(Hebrews 9:15.24-28; Mark 3:22-30)
In Thomas Aquinas’ “Prayer before Study” the saint asks the Lord for light. He sees himself engulfed by a twofold darkness – ignorance and sin. The first obscurity regards all the reality which his mind has not grasped. Aquinas is said to have known everything that was known at the time. But perhaps, like Socrates, he knew that there were oceans of knowledge still to be learned. The second darkness is even thicker. Sin often infects the mind so that one thinks he has answers to all questions or, at least, all the questions that are important. We may liken these two obscurities to the strongman which Jesus speaks of in today’s gospel.
Jesus’ parable astounds the person who considers it. He compares himself to a thief! Moreover, he says, the world is like a household and the devil like a strong man controlling it. Jesus binds the strong man by expelling demons. His aim is to set the people of the household free. He condemns anyone who would criticize his work but not because he takes personal offense. No, Jesus is concerned that his critics are preventing people from being liberated.
The struggle for liberation carries on today. Sometimes we act like we do not want to be set free. This is true of petty sins like being “know it alls” as well as more scandalous ones. Jesus has come to liberate us from all vices. Let’s not prevent him from doing so.