Daily Reflection
August 23rd, 2004
Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Theology and Chaplain of Kiewit Residence Hall
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I love two little stories about Thomas Aquinas which, whether they are true or not, should be.  In the first, someone asked him where he had learned all of his theology.  He simply pointed to his kneeler, indicating that it had been through prayer.  The second story tells us that at the end of his life Thomas stopped writing; when asked why, he replied that in comparison with what God had showed him in prayer the things he wrote were just so much straw.

Two very appropriate stories for today's Gospel reading, even if in apparent tension.  If the first points to prayer and the personal relationship to God that it embodies as the real source of the rational and externalized forms of our belief and practice, the second says that such forms are in the end so much rationalization of what is at root a personal relationship which transcends (literally and always) anything we can say about it.

We live our lives caught on the one hand between the forms of acceptable belief and behavior handed down to us by the faithfilled of earlier days and, on the other, our own stance before a loving God who continuously invites us to grow beyond the limits of those forms and behaviors and bear fruit to feed a world hungry for life.  Our choice cannot be merely blind obedience, nor can it be just common sense; it must be in tension between tradition and the Spirit, in humble obedience and sacrifice, the fruit of prayer and a knowledge of God.  And a recognition that we will never "get it absolutely right," but that with God's help we will only get it better.

We are not yet at the level of Thomas Aquinas, but just as he was we are pilgrims on the Way.


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