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Willing the Good of the Other

January 28, 2013
January 28, 2013, Monday, Third Week in Ordinary Time – Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church

Hebrews 9:15, 24-28. Christ, who offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time to those who eagerly await him.

Mark 3:22-30. It is the end of Satan.


Praise be to Jesus Christ! (For evermore!)

It is said of St. Thomas that in 1273, near the end of his life, he was witnessed in prayer and ecstasy, and asked by Christ, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?” Aquinas replied, “Domine, non nisi te” – Lord, nothing but you. It must have been true for him, for he wrote no more after that ‘because all that I have written seems like straw to me’. The only reward, indeed the only answer, is Christ the Lord.

Personally, I am a devotee of St. Thomas, his abundance of writings, and his Thomistic philosophy. There is not enough time allotted here, nor the whole long day to discuss all of his works; his Five Ways, arguing the Existence of God. Or -how in negative theology – describing what God is not, he proofs God not as any being, but as the ‘subsisting act of to be.’

But for me it is love. In his Summa, Aquinas describes love – as I have mentioned before – is willing the good of the other, as other. Willing the good of the other as other, and then doing something about it! With no personal gain. That’s Thomas’ view of love. And so the opposite of love is not hate as one would think, but fear; fear of the truth, fear of the light, fear of others.

 Love is willing the good of the other, as other

Today’s Gospel reading confronts this proliferation of fear. Head on. The scribes come and accuse the Lord of possession by Beelzebul – Ba’al the prince – by the prince of demons. (In Mark 3:21 they said he was out of his mind, which is already to suggest possession). Their fear mongering brings him to a teaching moment. First, “how can Satan drive out Satan?” In Mark’s Greek it reads ho satanas­ – The Accuser. Satan is indeed at work here, in the world, spreading fear through these accusers. And then Lord reminds us “a house divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.’ And Satan risen up against himself cannot stand. We learned this in grade school: any number divided by itself is One. One of the devil’s other names in the original Greek: ho diabolos – The Divider. He comes in and creates fear through accusations and causes weakness and sin through division. Christ the stronger man, comes in, ties up the fear, and rescues those helpless against their sin. It is a wonderful parable.

This past weekend, many of us saw the coverage of the March for Life on television. This was not accusing, dividing fear at work in the world. This massive, peaceful demonstration happening all over the world was love. This was willing the good of the other as other – not as a means to some misguided purpose, but as an end unto itself; of the salvation of souls.  Not objectively loving, but loving as Christ does.  With forgiveness, and mercy, and charity. Join him. Join St. Thomas in the ultimate reward: Nothing, but you Lord!

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