Daily Reflection
June 22nd, 1999
Richard Super
Genesis 13:2, 5-18
Matthew 7:6, 12-14
I’m always intrigued when things happen this way.  Purely by happenstance, I am to offer my humble reflections on this day, the feast day of St. Thomas More and his friend and fellow martyr Bishop St. John Fisher.  Thomas More, both as saintly and historical figure, has long captured my imagination, my admiration, and--as much as I can--my emulation.  Maybe that’s a product of the classic film A Man for All Seasons, based on the play by Robert Bolt.  I hope my estimation is also based on the values for which More lived and died.

His story is well known.  A philosopher, writer and statesman, Thomas More rose to the height of power and prestige in the sixteenth century court of Henry VIII of England.  Refusing to support the monarch’s desire to divorce and remarry which eventually led to the separation of the Church of England from Rome, More fell out of favor and office.  In 1535, his act of conscience exacted the ultimate price.  Supposedly, his final words before the executioner’s ax fell were, “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Thomas More’s courage to speak the truth, to refuse to just go along with what was happening in his country and society, despite the risks to his life and livelihood, represents a challenge that faces us all in our own families, our own places of work, our own society.  Just as More defended the law of God and the Church, today’s readings present us the law to be lived: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”  Defending this law may not be a matter of life and death, but the challenge can be just as daunting--to stand up and publicly speak from our faith and our consciences when being silent in the face of injustice would be so much safer, so much easier.  More’s fate and today’s readings warn of us of the difficulties:  “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

When I reflect on my own failures and frailty in this regard, I am nevertheless consoled by recalling that life’s journey is never walked alone, that especially during the challenges and the difficulties God always accompanies and always sustains with love.  Thomas More must have known that too when he prayed, in The Sadness of Christ, “But if we grow weary along the way (as we most always do) and lag so far behind that we barely manage to follow at a distance, let us immediately say to God, ‘Take my right hand’ and ‘Lead me along your path.’”

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