We are the people of the Lord, the flock that is led by his hand: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: C(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Green.
In other years: St Thomas the Apostle
The apostle Thomas is famous for doubting the resurrection of Jesus when his fellow apostles told him about it; but if he is the sceptical apostle, he is also the believing apostle, for having seen and touched a risen man, he made the immediate leap of faith and so became the first apostle to call Jesus God.
Nothing is known about Thomas’s later career. A well-known apocryphal document called the Acts of Thomas relates his missionary journeys to Persia and India. Although the document as it stands is not historical evidence (it was written to provide evidence for certain heretical Gnostic teachings), it still bears witness to the likelihood of a tradition that Thomas did go to India. If you are writing something that you intend to use to convince people of a controversial doctrine, you do not invent completely new facts: instead, you weave the existing facts and traditions into something that suits your purpose. Thus the very fact that the heretics used a journey of St Thomas to support their case shows us that, in the third century at least, there would have seemed nothing implausible about such a journey. The journey would have been easy enough – important trade routes lay that way – and if some of the apostles went west, to Rome, the centre of the world, there is no reason why some others should not have chosen to go east, to the edge of the known world.
We will probably never know for certain; but the Christians of Kerala have called themselves for centuries “St Thomas Christians”, and they may very well be right.
My friend has two children, a boy and a girl. If she tells the girl not to do something, the girl thinks “good, now I know one more thing about how to be grown-up” and doesn’t do it. If she tells the boy not to do something, he thinks “I wonder: why not?” and goes and does it, to see.
When the Church, inspired by Christ and millennia of prayer and reflection, tries to teach us what to do and what not to do, we pay no attention. We have to go and try it out for ourselves and later, made wise by experience, we discover that the teaching was right all along. We are like my friend’s small son. We are like St Thomas, who obstinately wouldn’t believe what he was told but had to see and touch for himself. St Thomas the Apostle, if you can stop laughing for long enough, pray for us!
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.
Liturgical colour: green
The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Romans 5:1-2,5 ©|
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. This hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Romans 8:26 ©|
The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Corinthians 1:21-22 ©|
Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us, marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.