by Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.
Head Chaplain
Thomas Aquinas College
Homily from St. Thomas Day 2019
Streaming / downloadable audio


St. Thomas is known for his taking up the wisdom of Aristotle and bringing it to the service of the Faith, as we know. From his early days as a student at the University of Naples, when he was around 16, he came across the Philosopher, who had a wisdom that came from God, the natural wisdom, and saw how useful this was in teaching for explaining the Catholic Faith.

But the mind and heart need more than a sound philosophy; they crave the very Word of God, and this was especially realized by St. Thomas above all. So, above all, St. Thomas was a lover, a student, and a teacher of the Sacred Scriptures. There he found the Beloved of his soul, and there he could meet and listen to his savior and become filled with the delight that comes from contemplating the beauty and the good news and truth of God Himself — not through creatures, but directly.

Nothing in Aristotle could do the same for him, St. Thomas — in love with Christ, in love above all with the living Word of Christ in the Sacred Scriptures. And love for Christ in the Scriptures filled him with the greatest reverence for teaching them. He labored over difficult passages. He strove to make sure he was giving faithful interpretations.

There are accounts of how the saints came to him to assure him that he was on the right track in his interpretations, Saints Peter and Paul appearing to him on one occasion to help him with an interpretation of a passage in Isaiah. On another, when he was lecturing on St. Paul, the Apostle appeared to him and assured him that he understood his epistles as fully as was possible in this life.

So all of this is to say that, in his studies, St. Thomas was pursuing, in fact, love more than knowledge. It was for the sake of that love that he took up Aristotle. It was even more for the sake of that love that he applied himself to the Sacred Scriptures. And above all he recommends the Scriptures to us to stir up our love. The more we read them, the stronger that love becomes. The more we give ourselves over to meditating on the mysteries of Christ, the more we can stir love of God into flame — the supreme importance of charity in living out our Christian lives. And so, too, the supreme importance of the Sacred Scriptures for stirring our love for Christ into flame.

How we deprive  ourselves of what we crave by staying away from the Holy Scriptures! How we stay away from meeting and speaking with Christ, Whose voice is heard whenever we open the Gospels!

St. Thomas, pray for us, that we may not hold back from loving God with full heart, soul, mind, and strength, nourishing that love by more and more going to the Sacred Scriptures in reading and meditation, and living them more and more with complete fidelity.

In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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