Saint for the day: Thomas Aquinas (1225 – March 7, 1274)
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 – Luke 1:69 …75 – Mark 4:21-25
(Dominicans will have special scriptures for this Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas:
“In the midst of the Church he opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding and clothed him in a robe of glory.” (Today’s Entrance Antiphon: Sirach 15:5)
Legend has it that St. Thomas was nicknamed “Brother Ox” because of his corpulent size. It was also said that the friars had to cut a notch in the table in order for him to be close enough to his plate to eat. However, those are not the reasons that his name has endured over the centuries down to our present time. He is still held in honor as a great teacher and his writings are still the mainstay of most seminary training throughout the world.
The first question that I ask myself: why is he still remembered and held up as an example for all of us so many years after his death? When I try to answer this question, the first thing that comes to mind – if the stories about his size are true – is that he wasn’t a perfect physical example of what we think saints should look like. It doesn’t appear that he was living on a little bread and water! But he must have been tuned in to the divine on other levels in order for him to understand and write so prolifically about the mysteries of God.
I’m reminded of the story of Samuel being sent to anoint a new king for the people. All the sons of Jesse are brought before him but he is told by the Lord, “take no note of his countenance, or on the height of his stature … for you look on the outward appearance, but the Lord God looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)
The other fact that comes to my mind is that we don’t find references to St. Thomas’ miracles. No bi-location stories; no miraculous levitations; no dramatic healings – at least to my knowledge – just an incredible insight into the mystery of God and an ability to comprehend and write huge volumes on the nature and wonder of God that have remained as a stable foundation in our Church even to this day.
The only thing people might say about me some time after my death, “Daniel who? Still I feel somewhat connected to this saint since my surname – Thomas – reminds me to always seek wisdom and knowledge of God and to be able to share that in all aspects of my life and ministry.
St. Thomas: be with us as guide and help us to understand the wonder and mystery of God. Amen!