Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
By JENNIFER BURGIN
“Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Dominican priest and Doctor of the Church who is probably one of the most influential theologians in Catholic Church history. Many people are intimidated by Aquinas. He can be a challenge to understand, but a basic introduction to his writings provides incredible wisdom and insight still applicable in modern day.
I came across this brilliant quote by Thomas Aquinas which I like to reflect on in light of today's familiar gospel reading from Mark 4:1-20 (Parable of the Seed Sower).
Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.
Believe Can we honestly say we believe in God and his hand in creating the universe? If God suddenly threw seeds of faith in our paths, would we pick them up and plant them in fertile soil? Or, would we decide to toss our faith seeds onto a rocky pavement or in a weedy thorn bush, throwing them away as if a pile of garbage?
We tend to have faith in things we see and in people or situations that feed our pride. We are less likely to have "faith" in things annoying, stressful, or too abstract for our sensibilities. When we do muster up faith in the unseen, naturally belief takes over.
When we have faith and belief in God we will not toss aside the tiny seeds of faith. We decide to preserve the seeds for generations to come. Plant a seed in rich soil and watch it grow. As it grows, we prune and manicure it, harvesting more seeds and cuttings so we can continue the plant's heritage. Suddenly, our garden of faith blossoms into attractive colors and aromas of all shapes and sizes.
For our salvation, we believe in mercy of God; we believe God as the master creator; and we believe that Christ died for our eternal life.
Desire Do we desire to imitate God in thought, word and deed? Do we desire to grow in our spiritual faith? Or do we allow the Devil to gather faith seeds for us, sowing his own wicked weeds instead?
Naturally we desire the sensual, the beautiful and the pleasurable. We wear fine clothes, drink fine wines, travel to fine destinations, and bed with fine looking people. There's nothing wrong with desiring attractive things; however, what we should desire #1 is Jesus Christ! He is the finest man of all, and he provides us with spiritual pleasures beyond our physical senses.
For our salvation, we desire a greater intimacy with God; and we desire to learn more about our Catholic faith so that we can grow spiritually.
Action Do we engage in ways to promote our faith and belief? Do we desire to fall in love with the Lord? Or do we take the seeds of faith and allow them to dry up from lack of shade and too much sunshine?
Our actions speak louder than words. If we say we believe in God, but don't practice our faith, we are hypocrites. If we say we desire to evangelize good news, but remain inattentive to the needs of others, we fail to live up to Christ's teaching. In other words, if we truly believe and desire to follow the Christian life we must do work. Faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) Faithful action may mean volunteering, tithing, or simply praying for others.
For our salvation, we act in ways that are pleasing to the Lord; we act in ways that are charitable and loving; and we perform actions that benefit the glory of God's Kingdom.
God provides us with so many choices in life. He does this because he loves us! Let us choose to sow the seeds of faith in rich, fertile soil!
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pray for Us!!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a Lay Dominican associated with Saint Albert the Great Dominican Priory in Irving Texas. Please follow her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality