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Saint Thomas Aquinas – January 28th
Readings: Wis 7:7-10; 15-16; Jn 17:11b-19.
1/ First Reading: RSV Wisdom 7:7 Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. 8 I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her. 9 Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her. 10 I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases. 15 May God grant that I speak with judgment and have thought worthy of what I have received, for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise. 16 For both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts.
2/ Gospel: RSV John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. 18 As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.
I. THEME: The importance of wisdom
If one wants to know how wise St. Thomas Aquinas is, he only needs to read the masterpiece, Summa Theologia. To reward his effort, Christ appeared to him one day and said, “Thomas, you write very well about me! I will grant you one favor, whatever it is I shall bestow on you.” Without any hesitation, he answered, “Non nisi te!” which means, “Nothing but you.”
In order to write such good about God, Thomas sacrificed all for the searching of wisdom. He belongs to the noble class, Landulph; his father is the Count of Aquino; his mother, Theodora, is the Countess of Teano. His family is kin of the two kings, Henry VI and Frederick II. When he decided to join the Dominican Order, he met intense opposition from his family to the point that his father and brothers planned to seize him on his journey and to put him as a prisoner in the San Giovanni Tower at Rocca Secca. They even let prostitutes come to seduce him and to make him forfeit his decision to become a poor preacher. But St. Thomas overcame all to dedicate his life in prayer and in searching wisdom.
Two readings from today feast highlight the importance and the benefits of wisdom. The first reading reported the conversation between God and King Solomon. Like St. Thomas Aquinas, the king asked for wisdom and God granted him the wisdom that no one before him and no one after him shall have such wisdom. In the Gospel, Christ, before His Passion and Death, asked his Father nothing other than to sanctify his disciples in the truth. He prayed for his people to understand and to live according to God’s words so that they could finish his mission and reach the eternal life.
1/ Reading I: “With wisdom, all good things come to me.”
1.1/ Wisdom is more valuable than all things: According to Hebrew’s tradition, King Solomon is the author of all Wisdom Books because he is regarded as the most wise person in the history of human beings. The tradition reported that when God said to the king that whatever he asks shall be granted to him. King Solomon didn’t ask for power, nor richness, nor health, nor a long life, nor any other things; but only the wisdom to make decisions and to govern his people. God is very pleased with his petition and He promised to grant him wisdom to the point that no one whether before or after him might have such wisdom. Let us see why?
(1) Wisdom is more valuable than power: When a king has scepters and thrones but doesn’t know how to govern his people, soon or later his kingdom shall fall into other’s hand. But if he has wisdom, he knows what his people are looking for and governs them according to their wish. His kingdom shall last long and he doesn’t have to suffer in the Last Day.
(2) Wisdom is more people than richness: King Solomon asserted, “I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her.” Though one has a vast richness but doesn’t know how to live in peace and happiness, what does he gain? Reality shows many rich people no longer have a desire to live; and some of them even want to terminate their life.
(3) Wisdom is better than health and beauty: This must be a wise lesson for those in our society who pay too much attention to exercises and fasting so they can have a good looking and healthy body. We, of course, don’t discount this as being not useful; but it isn’t enough to bring happiness for people. No matter how beautiful and healthy people are, they shall be old and fade according to their age. King Solomon gives us the reason why he valued wisdom more, “I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases.”
In short, King Solomon certainly meditate many times before he asked God for wisdom because when one has wisdom, one shall possess all things, as he said, “All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth.”
1.2/ How can one acquire wisdom? When one wants to have worldly wisdom, they must spend time to learn. When one wants to possess God’s wisdom, he must pray to God so He can grant him His Holy Spirit and spend time to read Scripture because it contains all of God’s revelation as described by King Solomon, “I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”
2/ Gospel: “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth.”
2.1/ Jesus knew all dangers his disciple must face in the world: When Jesus knows it is the time for him to leave this world, he said to his Father, “And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee.”
The hour when Jesus leaves the world is also the hour his disciple must fight against the worldly power by themselves. He knows how serious is the result of this fighting, as he said to them, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Mt 26:31). Looking back at the result of his mission, he said to his Father, “While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
The world shall hate and persecute Jesus’ disciples as they are going to hate and to persecute him. The reason is because both Jesus and his disciple don’t belong to the world. Jesus let his disciples to know this clearly so that they shall not be surprised when that thing shall happen.
2.2/ Jesus prayed for his disciples: Knowing all such dangers shall happen for his disciples, Jesus prayed for his disciples the following important things:
(1) To protect his disciples from the devil’s power: Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil one.” The disciples must stay in the world to continue Jesus’ mission of preaching and leading people to God.
(2) To sanctify his disciples in the truth: Like Paul, Jesus knows well dangers of fallacy when he prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth.As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.” The truth is the words in Scripture and Jesus’ teaching. Jesus knows all wrong actions originate from wrong understanding; therefore, to understand the truth can’t be lacked for his disciples.
These two petitions are granted by the Father when He gave them the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of truth. The Spirit shall help the disciples to know the truth and guide them to the perfect truth. He is also the one who gives them strength to witness for Jesus.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Knowing God’s wisdom is so critical for our life. We should pray to have God’s Spirit and to acquire wisdom from reading and meditating Scripture.
– We should imitate St. Thomas Aquinas and King Solomon who were ready to sacrifice all things for acquiring wisdom.
– We must respect the truth and never sacrifice it for anything in this world.