|December 29, 2008
We are in the Octave of Christmas (the eight
continuous days of celebrations for Christmas.) Eight continuous days of
particularly adoring Our Lord in His Crib. And near the Crib of our Lord
we found the friends of the Baby Jesus!
There’s Stephen – the first martyr. There’s John, the Beloved Disciple,
who took His Mother Mary into his home. There’s the Holy Innocents who
were slaughtered at the very tender age in order to protect the life of
the Baby Jesus shortly after He was born for us.
Today (December 29, 2008) the Church commemorates St. Thomas Becket.
Thomas Becket was born in London in 1118. He is a cleric of the diocese
of Canterbury. He first became chancellor to the king and then in 1162
was chosen bishop.
We might wonder – why do we find a place for St. Thomas Becket so close
to the Crib of our Lord? We find him so near to the Holy Crib because he
devoted himself whole-heartedly to the cause of the Church founded by
our Lord. He tirelessly defended the rights of the Church against King
Henry II. And this is what prompted the king to exile Becket to France
for six years. After Becket returned to his homeland, he endured many
trials. And in 1170, he was murdered by agents of King Henry II.
Becket was indeed not one who worked for money but for the Babe of
Bethlehem! He opposed the wolves which sought to invade the fold of Our
We find Becket so near to the Holy Crib of the Babe Divine because he
imitated Our Lord so closely in his love for the Church.
As St. Paul said to the Ephesians (5:25): Christ loved the Church and He
gave Himself for her. For the freedom of Mother Church, Becket
He said to the hired killers: “I am ready to die for God. I am
ready to die for the defense of justice. I am ready to die for the
freedom of the Church. Would only that my lifeblood might purchase Her
peace and freedom”.
That’s how this Bishop and Martyr earned his place so near the Crib of
So we take our stand by the side of this friend of the Babe Divine. We
take our stand by Becket through our zeal for the Church and for Her
St. Anselm once said: “God loves nothing on earth so much as the freedom
of the Church.” Those who have guided the destinies of the Church, have
always stood out for Her freedom.
Pius VIII said: “By right of Divine institution, the Church, the pure
spouse of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is free, and subject to no earthly
Should the freedom of Mother Church be attacked, we have to be at our
station. Should the freedom to preach and to administer/receive the
Sacraments be attacked, we have to be at our post. Should the freedom of
Christian education, the freedom of religious orders, and the freedom of
any jurisdiction of the Church be attacked, we have to be guarding at
our station and defend Her holy rights.
We recall the reproach of Our Lord through the prophet Isaiah (56:10)
especially the reproach addressed to shepherds: “His watchmen are all
blind, they are all ignorant; dumb dogs not able to bark, seeing vain
things, sleeping and loving dreams…. The shepherds themselves know no
understanding.” (cf. Bossuet) “For the Church, to establish Her rights,
She must let Her blood flow in streams. Her Spouse has purchased Her
with His blood, and She must purchase His grace at a like cost.”
So we want to pray fervently today to St. Thomas Becket for the grace to
be true lovers of Mother church and to defend Her as much as we have the
strength, especially for us priests to be and ever be a priest and
champion of Mother Church and her rights at any cost. So we, too, may
always remain near the Crib of our Lord.