Homily: St. Thomas Becket, 2008
Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
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 Lord.
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 sacrificed everything.
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 our Lord.
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 sacred rights.
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 power.”
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.