January 28, 2006

Thomas Aquinas

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

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from stjeromeschapel.org. I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is January 28th, 2006: the feast of Thomas Aquinas.

Sometimes it seems like religion is moving a bit fast these days. Shouldn’t something that concerns the unchanging Creator of the universe be one of those things that isn’t subject to the kind of endless change that marks the movies, music, hairstyles, and hemlines? But that’s just not how it is. True, God doesn’t change, but because we are human, theology—that is, the study of God—will necessarily grow and change over time as we deepen our relationship with God and (ideally) increase our understanding.

But we’d be wrong to think that this is a postmodern problem. We sometimes romanticize the past, imagining that there was a perfect golden age when people knew what they knew and weren’t as uncertain as we are today. Sometimes people imagine that time was the early Renaissance. But I have to tell you, that if the life and work of Thomas Aquinas tells us anything, it’s that the first half of the 13th century was anything but an age of certainty.

Quite the contrary, actually. The young Dominican friar, Thomas Aquinas, was an Italian nobleman who found himself at the University of Paris, surrounded by some of the greatest minds of his, or any, generation. They were attempting to deal with the newly re-discovered writings of Aristotle, which contrasted sharply with the dominant philosophy of neo-Platonism. Thomas’ mind was extraordinary and he was able to help the Church enter fully into the period of great theological growth known as Scholasticism.

It is for this reason that today’s Gospel passage is that famous parable of Jesus that ends, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:47-52) Thomas was able to honor the past in his own time while illuminating it with the new light he saw. But he knew that both were important. The challenge is just the same for us today.

Let us pray: Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; though Jesus Christ our Lord, 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 February 1st at stjeromeschapel.org for the feast of Blessed Brigid of Ireland. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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