December 29, 2005

Thomas Becket

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is December 29th, 2005: the Feast of Blessed Thomas Becket.

Have you ever known anyone whose whole life changed when he or she suddenly got some new responsibility? I’m thinking here of a person who abruptly quits staying out late and starts exercising when his children are born, or someone who starts working harder at her job when she gets an unexpected promotion at work. If so, you might know a little of what it was like to know Thomas Becket.

Born in the early 12th century, Thomas was the child of wealth and power in England. He became a Church administrator, eventually rising to the level of Archdeacon of Canterbury, and becoming a close friend of King Henry II. Because of his unfailing loyalty to the King, Thomas was elected Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. And here is where his story takes a turn for the heroic.

The scripture passage appointed for today (Matthew 10:16-22) is the charge to the Twelve, and has Jesus saying, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” That might have been what the King expected when he appointed his close friend Thomas to be Archbishop, but Thomas turned out to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Once he accepted the leadership of the Church, his loyalty shifted away from the King and toward his flock. He began to openly oppose the King in some matters, which must have surprised his former friend. He had changed, as he said, “from a patron of play actors and a follower of hounds, to being a shepherd of souls.”

The relationship deteriorated so badly, in fact, that four of the King’s barons, thinking they would gain some favor by killing Thomas, went to Canterbury Cathedral and murdered him in front of the altar as he was praying vespers on this day in 1170.

Has God ever given you unexpected charge over something? Have you ever thought that you should turn away from being a “follower of hounds” and taking more seriously the important roles that you have been offered? If so, take strength from Thomas Becket, who though it cost him dearly, knew that caring for God’s people, God’s Church, and God’s creation, however that is lived out, is the highest calling of all.

Let us pray: O God, our strength and our salvation, you called your servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of your people and a defender of your Church: Keep your household from all evil and raise up among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on January 1st at for the feast of The Holy Name. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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