Friday, January 28, 2011

As They Understand

Readings for Friday, January 28/Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas:
Hebrews 10:32-39
Psalm 37:3-6,23,24,39,40
Mark 4:26-34

"He spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it."

The other day I was checking my Facebook account and noticed a friend who had posted as his 'status' something to the effect of 'Why do people write books that their readers cannot understand?!?!'. I laughed because I too have said this on occasion when trying to understand some of my philosophy or theology textbooks. But it comes to mind today because if people cannot understand what you are trying to say, then you're really not saying it at all. The point of language is to communicate ideas to another and if we fail to communicate the idea, it's all in vain. And so when we hear that Jesus spoke to people in ways that they were able to understand, it is an opportunity for us to look at our lives and see if we are doing or can do the same. When people ask us about the faith or when we feel called to speak to others about the faith, can we do so in a way that they understand or do we simply say the same textbook response over and over hoping eventually it will sink in or can we find something to connect with them? This is part of the reason that Christ spoke in parables, because He was able to employ common things which everyone knew and understood to speak of theological concepts. In connection with this, Mother Church celebrates today Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the thirty-three doctors of the Church. He was a man who was graced with an incredible gift for taking what was highly theological and bringing it so that the people could understand. He wrote numerous great works, notably his Catena Aurea in which he broke open the gospels in a way that made them understandable to the people of his day. I pray that we, like St. Thomas, might be able to so deeply understand the faith that we can break it open to all those who are longing to hear it and simply need someone to speak it to them so that they can understand.