Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear about listening to God and obeying His laws, and fulfilling the commandments which He had given to us. It is highlighted in the first reading today from the first letter of St. John the Apostle, that as the servants and disciples of God, that we have to live out our faith and be concrete in that faith, showing it in our actions, words and deeds, and not doing what is contrary to the teachings of our Lord Jesus.
If we call ourselves as the children of God and as the members of His Church, then we have to behave as one. We cannot profess to be the children of God, and yet our actions prove to be completely otherwise. The very reason why it has been so difficult for many to believe in Christ and indeed why many of them refused to believe in Him is because we who are the disciples of Christ preached about Him but we did not practice what we preached.
How can they believe in us and in what we preached to them if we ourselves did not embody what we have preached. Instead, we become an embarrassment of the Faith, and our Lord will not be pleased at us. Not only that we have failed to observe His laws and commandments, but we have also made others to lack the faith in Him because of our own wicked actions and deeds, not in line with what we preached.
Therefore, we have to mean what we say, and we have to act on what we believe in. Otherwise, our faith in God is empty and meaningless, and instead of salvation we will gain condemnation from God and eternal punishment. St. James in his epistle, the letter of St. James, highlighted in it that faith without works is essentially the same as dead. That means faith without action based on that faith is a useless one and indeed, as I have elaborated, this kind of faith is harmful to us.
Yes, and that is the same faith which the hypocrites committed. The Pharisees and the scribes of the Law whom the Lord condemned as hypocrites were externally and outwardly seeming to be pious and good servants of the Lord, but in reality, they have no God in them, for whom they spared no place in their hearts. They preached faith and devotion to God and trumpeted their devotion loud for others to see, and yet they did these for themselves and to satisfy their own vanity.
Jesus condemned them precisely because they have no regards for the Lord and did not obey His laws and commandments as they should have. They have besmirched the Name of the Lord and spat on His precepts. They cared not for the Lord nor for His people but for their own self-aggrandisement. They were the ones who should have recognised the Christ when He came, and yet they doubted Him, rejected Him and laid difficulties along His works and His paths.
Our actions must not be like that of theirs, and instead we have to do as we believed, and we have to act in the way not contradicting the very Creed we profess. And this is what we can learn from the saint whose feast we are celebrating today, namely St. Thomas of Canterbury, also known by his name, St. Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury during the high Medieval age of the twelfth century, during the reign of King Henry II of England.
St. Thomas Becket was a devoted man of God, who followed the will of God wholeheartedly and who took the laws and commandments of God seriously in his heart. He was particularly staunch at the enforcement of the law of God and the Church. He was once a servant of the king entrusted with many matters because of his skills in management, appointed to chancellorship by the king.
The king had hoped that if he appointed St. Thomas Becket to the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primate of England and the chief of the religious officer of the state, he would continue to show preference to serve the king and the state as he had been before. But St. Thomas Becket would prove him to be wrong. He was a faithful and pious servant of the Church, who did not mince his words and who was sorrowed by the great corruption in the lives of the king and his servants.
St. Thomas Becket practiced his faith faithfully to the core of its foundations, fulfilling the teachings of Christ. He showed mercy and love to sinners who sought God’s help, but to those who were wicked and unrepentant, and to those who persisted in their love for the world, he had no love for them. He excommunicated and expelled many from the Church those who had followed the path of the Pharisees, getting themselves rich at the cost of others and those who have caused untold sufferings for many.
He gained the enmity and hatred of many in the king’s court and circles, and this eventually led to a group of knights who plotted to assassinate him as he celebrated the solemn prayers. He was assassinated in cold blood at the holy places, while he surrendered himself completely to God. Those who were involved in the assassination including the king were punished severely by the Church, excommunicated and asked to do serious and long series of penance for their murder of the holy man of God, who was canonised as a martyr and saint soon after his murder.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the example of St. Thomas Becket should inspire us all to walk and practice our faith with genuine intention and devotion to our God. If only that all the faithful would emulate his upright life and devotion to his Faith, then the whole world would have been converted upon seeing our brilliant examples and dedication to the way of the Lord.
It is therefore necessary that we mean what we say, and if we are to preach the Word of God, then we have to mean what we preach and practice it ourselves, so that others who see us may know that we truly belongs to Christ, and not following our own selfish way. May St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket pray for us and intercede for us sinners. Amen.