|Memorial, Saint Thomas Aquinas,
priest and doctor
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 10, 11
"Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
It is difficult not to stand in awe of the great Dominican scholar and saint, Thomas Aquinas. [See a brief sketch of his life here.] He used his gifts to transform the way we reflected up and understood our faith. His work became a "textbook" for Catholic theology for hundreds of years. Yet, it is wonderful to remember that at some point he simply stopped writing, referring to his great work as "so much straw" compared to what he had seen and had been revealed to him. This great theologian knew that theology was not faith. Theology is "faith seeking understanding." What Thomas came to know and desire was a relationship with God that filled his great heart.
The "good news" that Mark is sharing with us today is a similar powerful message. Who are those who are "blessed" as those who are the closest to Jesus? We might think that his blood relatives would be the closest to him. Jesus tells us that intimacy with him comes from doing the will of God.
In our "liberated," contemporary culture it can be difficult for us to think of doing anybody else's will. The very mention of it can tighten an inner resistance in us. For Jesus, to give ourselves over to God's way, rather and cling to our own way, is to really find true freedom and joy. He tells us today that we are in a special "kin-ship" with him when we let his grace "de-self-ish" us.
What is God's desire for us? What do we hear inside when we ask God, "Most loving God, you who made me and sustain me each and every day, what do you desire for me?" The more we ask this deep prayer, in a variety of times and situations in our lives, the more we are led into an examination of conscience. We can instinctively recognize and say that this or that habit or way of doing things, relating to others, or approach to life are not coming out of God's desire for us. These mini-conversion moments are God's way of inviting us into intimacy with Jesus.
For example, it can't be God's will for me to be wrapped up in myself. It can't be God's will that I be crabby and judgmental about everyone else. Could God really want me to refuse to be open, honest and vulnerable in communicating with those who need my love the most? It just can't be God's will that I be tied up in anxiety and worry. How could it be that God would want me to escape from real relationships into sexual fantasy and pornography? As we reflect, each of us could examine our consciences and clearly identify the freedom we desire, the freedom God has planted a desire for in our hearts. As we reflect, we instinctively know what it is to do God's will.
Dear Jesus, thank you for inviting me to do God's will today. Thank you for showing me that this is the path to the intimacy with you that I desire. Please help me not only to say "no" to certain patterns of selfishness in my life, but to give into more loving faithful ways of being whom God calls me to be. Let me love as you love me. Let me know the blessed joy of a real togetherness with you.
"Sacrifice or oblation you wished
Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
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