Reflection Monday Week 3 (Year C) Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Heb 9:15, 24-28; Ps 98:1, 2-3ad—6; and Mark 3:22-30
Efficacy of Christ’s Sacrifice, Aquinas and Sanctify of Life
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest philosophers, preachers, writers, theologians, of all times; Doctor of the Church and patron of catholic universities, colleges and schools, including Sacred Heart School of Theology, here in Milwaukee. He earned the title, “Angelic doctor.”
I am not a Dominican priest. But I lived and studied with the Dominicans in Rome for years. In addition to all the readings I have done on Thomas Aquinas, I had the privilege of breathing, learning and hearing first hand stories told about St. Thomas Aquinas by his Dominican brothers in Rome. Born in Rocca Secca in Naples in the year 1224 and died in Fossa Nuova in March 1274. Very short life! Thomas lived less than 50 years but composed more than sixty works, including his famous “Summa Theologica.” His style of writings reflects his thinking and spirituality. Like the Author or preacher of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which we have reflected upon this week and taught as a Course in our school this Semester, Thomas Aquinas was eclectic, Platonic, Aristotelian, Socratic, inductive, deductive, analytic and synthetic in his theological methods and styles.
He would always chose the best he could find in those who preceded him, carefully sifting the chaff from the wheat, approving what was true and rejecting the false and shadow. His emphasis was on reason and faith, above all the holiness of life, and which road will take us- professor, seminarians, staff--- to God. Peace, forgiveness, prayer, hard work, righteousness- the road that Melchizedek took!
There is a story told of Aquinas “as a young student in the class room he kept asking his professor- Who is God? Please, professor explain to me what is God? Eventually, Thomas came to the conclusion that knowing God required more than teachers and books could provide. Knowing God is more than anything else a spiritual endeavor. The prayerful soul has to seek the truth with a clean and humble heart." We find this in the entire life and career of St. Thomas Aquinas.
While studying the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross which the Epistle to the Hebrews addresses, Thomas would spend many hours in prayer before the Tabernacle, the imprint of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Thomas like the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews understood that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, which we reenact daily here at Mass is greater and more effective than the sacrifice of the old law.
The sacrifice of Christ was spontaneous, while animal sacrifices of the old law was the product of law. The sacrifice of Christ was a product of love, no mechanism of law but a choice of love beyond human reasoning, even beyond the reasoning of his own relative. The sacrifice of the old covenant cleansed only our bodies from ceremonial uncleanness. While the sacrifice and blood of Christ, cleansed our souls, washes our sins, pleads our cause, and reunites us with God. It mediates and inaugurates for us that new covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31. Goodness, purity, love are now written in our hearts. It’s moral! It touches consciences and enables us to worship the living true God, with undivided minds and souls. It finally brings us eternal redemption and makes us holy, a chosen race a people set apart.
Thomas Aquinas understood this. He lived, studied and taught the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross with an example of holiness of life, charity, humility and rectitude of intention in his professional works and studies. May our goals here at Sacred Heart School of Theology continue to be tailored after the examples of Christ, and Saint Thomas Aquinas!