OPTIONAL MEMORIAL OF ST. THOMAS BECKET, BISHOP AND MARTYR, DECEMBER 29, 2020


MASS READINGS


A Gospel according to Mt 16:24-27


Jesus said to all,

“Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself,

take up his cross, and follow me.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,

but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world

and forfeit his life?

Or what can one give in exchange for his life?

For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,

and then he will repay each one according to his conduct.”


REFLECTION: "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world

and forfeit his life?"


We still are within the Octave of Christmas, today being the fifth day, the "five golden rings" from the song, and so far we've celebrated 3 martyrdoms: St. Stephen, the Holy Innocents, and today, St. Thomas Becket.


Maybe it means being a Christian would not profit us a popularity contest. But Jesus assures us that by being faithful to the end will ensure us being with Him in eternity.


For those of us who live in the first world it is difficult to imagine something better than this life: many of us have good jobs, or at least we did until covid; homes with heat/ac, running water, electricity, internet, smartphones, clothes, entertainment, etc.


Most likely, we will not have to spill our blood like the martyrs of days past.


Our martyrdom will be different. What will be those things that will make us uncomfortable and unpopular, even amongst our own family members? What would our position be before the gender agenda bombarding young people? Abortion? Euthanasia? Death penalty?


We need to pray even more, now, especially for perseverance to the end. But also to be able to be truthful and yet loving, especially when talking to our children about those things and people that distort the truth.


St. Thomas Becket was the archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. He was a close friend to King Henry II.


King Henry II thought that by having a close friend in the priesthood, he could start usurping Church rights. At first St. Thomas compromised, approving the Constitutions of Clarendon. Initially it looked like a way to deal in royal court with clerics that had committed crimes, but in reality it was a way to intrude into Church affairs, and some articles even went against cannon law. It also prevented the accused clergy to make direct appeals with Rome.


Eventually St. Thomas rejected the Constitutions and fled to France for his own safety. He eventually returned to England after seven years. He refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the King.


In a fit of rage, King Henry II cried out: "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!"


At this, four knights went into Canterbury Cathedral and slew St. Thomas on December 29, 1170.


His death is described by T.S. Elliot in his "Murder in the Cathedral". We can see the temptations of physical safety, power, riches, fame and coalitions with the barons and King. At last, one of them urges him to seek the glory of martyrdom:

You hold the keys of heaven and hell.
Power to bind and loose: bind, Thomas, bind,
King and bishop under your heel.
King, emperor, bishop, baron, king.

St. Thomas accepts martyrdom. He is murdered by having his skull cracked open and his brains spill into the Cathedral floor. King Henry II was horrified and did very strict penance for this act, since he realized it was his words that encouraged this act.


Becket was hailed as martyr and canonized in 1173. The Cathedral was a center of pilgrimage until Henry VIII ordered his bones destroyed and all mention of his name obliterated. Today his place of death is marked by a simple stone bearing his name.


No one becomes a saint without a struggle-- especially with one self.


Let us ask God for the grace of knowing right from wrong, especially for our priests so they stand firm in defense of Truth.


God Bless all y'all!





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