Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 1-28-21

Homily for 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 1-28-21, Year B
Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas – Priest and Doctor of the Church
READINGS: 1st Reading 1st Wis, 7:7-10, 15-16; Gospel Mt 23:8-12
Theme: Wisdom of God

St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest

Born 1226 in the old kingdom of Sicily which is now known as the Lazio Region of Italy.

He began his studies at a young age at Monte Cassino.

His mother wanted him to join the Benedictines and become an Abbott, but St. Aquinas refused. Not complying with his mother and wanting to join the newly created Dominicans, she had his older brothers kidnap him and they kept him at home for over a year. Once freed, he joined the order of the Dominicans and became a priest.

He went on to the University of Naples to continue his studies.

And from there he studied at Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany where he studied under Blessed Albert the Great. There he met his philosophical mentors of Aristotle and others where he developed his love of philosophy. 

He wrote many theological writings, exhortations, and instructions including Summa Contra Gentiles and his most famous but unfinished writing Summa Theologiae (instructions for beginning students of Catholic Theology and Faith).

He also wrote many hymns, some of which are used in the Eucharistic Liturgy to this day such as O Salutaris, Tantum Ergo and Pange Lingua.

Becoming ill on his way to the Council of Lyons of which he was called by Pope Gregory the X, he died at the Cistercian abbey of Fossa-Nuova, March 7th, 1274.

He was canonized by Pope John XXII on July 18th, 1323.

He is the patron Saint of students, Catholic schools, universities, philosophers, and book sellers.

He is one of the great Doctors of the Church.

It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas was known among his classmates as the “dumb ox” because he rarely entered into conversations or spoke of his accomplishments and talents. St. Thomas put himself last knowing that he actually held the very thing all of those other students didn’t even know they were looking for, Wisdom. Yet what they perceived as stupidity was actually a wisdom and knowledge that transcended their own intellect.

To have wisdom is to know what the will of God is, and the will of God is that which was taught by Jesus. Wisdom allows us to view the world differently. With wisdom we come to realize that our earthly gains and desires are all but rubbish in comparison to knowing the ultimate truth, that of Christ our Lord.

Where does wisdom come from? It comes from God. In all humbleness ask God for wisdom and it shall be given to you. For wisdom was with God in the beginning. The first signs that one has wisdom is their humility, the very knowledge that they were given life as a gift, that there is one greater than them, and that life is a precious possession to be care for and loved.

To teach wisdom is to teach humility, to teach humility one must live as a servant, putting all things before one’s self. In doing so one gains all things because of their humble service. St. Thomas Aquinas knew this. In his humble service to God and the Church his writings would elevate all souls to understand the meaning of the Will of God through the understanding of the teachings of Christ. His best example of this is his greatest work, that of Summa Theologiea, a work he never finished before his death.

“ St. Thomas Aquinas felt called to serve the Church through scholarship in writing and preaching, and worked on Summa Theologica until shortly before his death. It is said that after a period of ecstasy during mass on 6 December 1273, Aquinas declared he would write no more, as anything he wrote would pale in comparison to what had just been revealed to him.”  His encounter with Christ showed him a wisdom beyond understanding in this world.

In today’s gospel, Christ said to his disciples, do not be called teacher, father, or master. This is because they must be servants and equal brothers with themselves and the rest of humanity. Through their servitude, they will gain wisdom and with wisdom comes the Will of God through Christ. They will have humbled themselves only to be exulted by God.

Ask for wisdom from God always and come to a serene understanding of consciousness that is beyond all riches and materials “because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.”

1 – The Embryo Project Encyclopedia, article by Kathrine Brind’Amour 2007

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL