Let us adore Christ, the Son of God, who made himself obedient to Mary and to Joseph.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: St Thomas Becket (1118 - 1170)
He was born in London and became a close friend of King Henry II. He was only a deacon when he was appointed chancellor of England. When he was ordained as archbishop of Canterbury, he underwent an abrupt conversion of life and began to defend the Church’s rights against the king. He had to take refuge in a French monastery for six years, and when he returned to his diocese four knights, inspired by careless words from the king, assassinated him in his cathedral on 29 December 1170. He was immediately acknowledged as a martyr and the king later did penance and endowed his shrine. He is remembered for his courage in defence of the rights of the Church. See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
In other years: Elijah and Elisha, a reflection on St Thomas
The prophets Elijah and Elisha are a bit of an embarrassment. Not only are the names similar but some of their miracles resemble one another so closely that some scholars have argued that Elijah and Elisha are the same person, with narratives from two different sources of the prophet’s life having been accidentally included one after the other.
Today’s feast reminds us of another historical coincidence:
A learned and worldly man called Thomas, a close and trusted friend of King Henry, is appointed by the king to a high office where he is expected to be loyal and take the king’s part against all others, even the Church. Conscious of his unworthiness for the office he has been given, Thomas suffers an interior conversion and resolves to follow his conscience, God’s voice within him. His upholding of truth and the Church’s rights leads to a conflict with the king, who feels betrayed by his trusted friend. Eventually Thomas is killed; subsequently he is canonized.
Are we talking about Henry II of England and Thomas à Becket? Or Henry VIII of England and Thomas More? The same description applies equally to both.
We can imagine a wise scholar of the 30th century arguing that there was only one Henry and only one Thomas, and that early sources accidentally split them into two. But the wise scholar would be wrong. Whatever doubts we hold about the history and transmission of Scripture, we should never quite forget that what we read about may be what really happened.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Pope St Paul VI (1897-1978)
Giovanni Battista Montini was born on 26 September 1897 in the village of Concesio, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920 and worked in the Roman Curia, the Vatican civil service, until he was made Archbishop of Milan in 1954. He was elected Pope on 21 June 1963, successfully saw the Vatican Council through to its completion, promoted the renewal of the Church’s life and especially of the liturgy. He also promoted ecumenical dialogue and the proclamation of the Gospel to the modern world. He died on 6 August 1978.
He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2018.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Colossians 3:12-13 ©|
You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Colossians 3:14-15 ©|
Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Colossians 3:17 ©|
Never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.