|St. Thomas Aquinas, by Carlo Crivelli, 1476.|
Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Jan. 28
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the Gospel for January 28, Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Matthew 23:8-12)
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
The first reading discusses the beauty of wisdom and how precious and dear wisdom is to the wise man. It is similar to the pearl of great price in Matthew 13, where upon finding the pearl the man sells all he has to buy it. Here man almost pleads and wisdom comes to him and the wise man prefers it to all things. The wisdom of the wise man is that instead of seeking his own wisdom he seeks God’s.
This is seen again throughout Psalm 119 which is excerpted in the responsorial psalm. The individual seeks to know and understand and teach others the precepts of God, made known to man in codified law. The one who calls himself wise but seeks his own wisdom and the betterment of his own name is only chasing the wind. The one who follows wisdom that is not of God follows his own wisdom or the wisdom of the world.
It is important to remember that the first and most important work of any saint, especially a Doctor of the Church, is their life, not simply what writings they produce. He was not a scientist seeking to understand and articulate the mysteries of universe but a believer seeking to understand God and His creation. He sought God’s wisdom before all else and therefore humbled himself before God. The Church exalts him precisely because he was so humble.
When one humbles himself and seeks God’s wisdom above all else, paradoxically, he becomes wise.
In seeking your own wisdom you will be brought low, either in this life or in the next. St. Thomas Aquinas sung of the glory of God rather than his own, thereby teaching us how to get to heaven. May we be humble enough to follow where this wise Doctor leads us.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is the Director of Religious Education for Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbott and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Penelope.
Jesus teaches that the greatest among us will be the least. This paradoxical statement becomes more clear when we consider St. Thomas Aquinas as a saint and a Doctor of the Church.