Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian and Doctor of the Church. St. Thomas is remembered for his great intelligence, his philosophy and his writing, The story of his life is fascinating reading. Born to a relatively wealthy and devout family, he was the youngest of 9 children. He was sent to a Benedictine Monastery at the age of 5. Later, he found himself drawn to the religious orders that focused on spiritual service rather than a more isolated monastic life. Because his family felt strongly that he should join the Benedictine Order, and he was attracted to the Dominican order, he decided to join the Dominican Order in secret. When his family learned what he had done, they kidnapped him and for over a year, kept him in captivity, trying to change his thinking. Eventually Thomas returned to the Dominicans, continued with his studies and became one of the world’s most recognized philosophers and theologians.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus speaking about driving out Beelzebul and the scribes accusing Jesus of being from Beelzebul. Jesus refutes this thinking of the scribes by telling them that Satan can not rise up against himself or he will not stand. In the lines just preceding today’s readings, we hear how Jesus’ family, like Thomas Aquinas’ family sought to seize him and stop him from what he was doing. Jesus’ family thought he was out of his mind – speaking to demons and defying the religious leaders. Perhaps they thought he was becoming a religious fanatic; perhaps they were fearful that he would suffer physical harm because of the ways he was speaking out.
Both Jesus and St. Thomas could have chosen the less controversial path, avoided upsetting their families, avoided any physical harm. Although not likely, we can’t know for sure if St. Thomas would have still been a great Doctor of the Church without studying with the Dominicans, we do know that it was necessary for Jesus to follow the difficult way and that what seemed like foolish choices actually was the path that made him our Savior.
Every day of our life, we are called to make many decisions – for ourselves and for others. It is so tempting to make decisions that will cause us the least stress and pain. Let us pray in humility to the Holy Spirit for strength, wisdom and understanding in all our decisions, that we may never adopt a course of action just because it’s the easier way.
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.