Monday, December 28, 2009

DECEMBER 29 SAINT THOMAS BECKET

“St. Thomas Becket”
by Meister Francke, 1424 
DECEMBER 29

SAINT THOMAS BECKET, BISHOP AND MARTYR
 

Biographical Information about St. Thomas Becket[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Thomas Becket

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
 
2 Timothy 2:8-13; 3:10-12

Beloved:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.
You have followed my teaching, way of life,
purpose, faith, patience, love,
endurance, persecutions, and sufferings,
such as happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra,
persecutions that I endured.
Yet from all these things the Lord delivered me.
In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted.
 

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Commentary on
 
2 Tm 2:8-13; 3:10-12

In the first line of this passage, St. Paul reminds St. Timothy that Christ came fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the line of King David. The apostle explains the baptismal idea expressed in the death to sin and the rising with Christ as a new creation. As Paul implies, this is not an easy path and Christians must endure trials. He concludes with the promise that those who remain faithful will receive the reward; those who fall away will not.

The apostle concludes with a statement of fact that, just as he had been vigorously persecuted through out his missionary travels, “…all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

CCC: 2 Tm 2:8 437; 2 Tm 2:11-13 2641;2 Tm 3:12 2847
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
 
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear and be glad.
 

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
 

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
 

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
 

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
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Commentary on
Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Psalm 34 is a song of thanksgiving and a favorite for celebrating the heroic virtue of the saints. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Psalm 34:5, 7), can teach the "poor," those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone. This psalm, in the words of one being unjustly persecuted, echoes hope for deliverance and freedom. The Lord in his faithful love always hears those who call to him for help and salvation.

CCC: Ps 34:3 716; Ps 34:8 336
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GOSPEL
 
Matthew 16:24-27

Jesus said to all,
"Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life? Or what can one give
in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay each one according to his conduct."
 

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Commentary on
Mt 16:24-27

This is the second time within the Gospel of St. Matthew the Lord instructs the disciples that if they wish to follow him, they must take up the cross (the first time is in Matthew 10:38). This passage focuses the followers of Christ on the idea that serving the Lord must come before any other purposes in life, since it is through following Jesus that eternal life is gained. The final verse infers that the reward to the faithful is variable, that to some greater honor is given.
 
CCC: Mt 16:24-26 736; Mt 16:24 226, 618, 2029; Mt 16:25-26 363; Mt 16:25 2232; Mt 16:26 1021
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Reflection:

For most of us, discerning what God wants us to do and to be is difficult. It is difficult in the day to day decisions we must make regarding our own conduct, and it is difficult in the larger view as we try to find greater purpose for our lives. Some of us succeed in finding peace even in the face of poverty or hardship, others of us struggle our entire lives seeking the right path, the right balance between inward faith and outward example. History shows us many examples of individuals who have sought to take what is called the “high road,” the difficult path that does not compromise faith for comfort or safety. Such a person was St. Thomas Becket.

St. Thomas was thrust into a time and place where he was to set the dogmatic and philosophical balance between secular leadership and the Church’s interests on earth. He challenged the attempt by the British Monarchy to usurp the authority of the Church, and paid for his stalwart leadership with his life, accepting the martyr’s white robe.

We recall his noble struggle and glorious end, knowing that the merciful God he served in his life rewarded him with a place of honor in the heavenly kingdom. On this, his feast day, we ask for his intercession. We ask especially that he pray for our own strength of convictions, that we may never compromise our faith-based values to satisfy secular convention or expectations, and that we always strive to be examples of Christ’s great love for all persons.

Pax



[1] The picture is “St. Thomas Becket” by Meister Francke, 1424 
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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