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Prayer for 28 January 2021

Listen to or read a service of Prayer for Thursday 28 January 2021, the festival of Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas has been described as the greatest thinker and teacher of the mediæval church. Born at Rocca Secca, near Aquino, in Italy, Thomas was educated first by the Benedictines at Monte Cassino and then at the University of Naples. Against his family’s wishes, he joined the mendicant Dominican Order of Preachers. His profound, theological wisdom and capacity to impart this, as well in homilies as in hymns, along with his gentleness of spirit in dealing with all, earned him the title ‘the angelic doctor’. He died on 7 March 1274, en route to the Council of Lyons, and his feast has been celebrated on this day since 1970.

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Praise

Eternal God,
who enriched your Church with the learning and holiness
of your servant Thomas Aquinas;
give to all who seek you
a humble mind and a pure heart
that they may know your Son Jesus Christ
as the way, the truth and the life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Psalm 24.1-6

The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it,
the compass of the world and all who dwell therein.

For he has founded it upon the seas
and set it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord,
or who can rise up in his holy place?’

‘Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,
who have not lifted up their soul to an idol,
nor sworn an oath to a lie;

‘They shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
a just reward from the God of their salvation.’

Such is the company of those who seek him,
of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

Reading
Mark 4.21-25

Jesus said to the twelve and those around him, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’

Reflection

For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.

The recorded qualities of Thomas Aquinas cast him as a role model for us all. He was a priest, philosopher and teacher of the faith who has become renowned for his capacity to bring great theological wisdom to issues that many of us simply take for granted. Thomas did not only study and ponder the great spiritual mysteries of Christendom, he also passed on his learning to others with great gentleness of spirit. There is a prayer attributed to Thomas which reveals the motives and desires of this forward looking theologian:

Most loving Lord, grant me a steadfast heart
which no unworthy desire may drag downwards;
an unconquered heart which no hardship may wear out;
an upright heart which no worthless purpose may ensnare.
Impart to me also, O God,
the understanding to know you,
the diligence to seek you,
a way of life to please you,
and a faithfulness that may embrace you,
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Today’s reading calls us to emulate Thomas Aquinas in our study of the mysteries of the Christian faith and then, also in the way of Thomas Aquinas, to share our knowledge and our love of God with others.

Not everyone is called to be an academic theologian, but we are all called to bring the light of Christ into the lives of others. Through faith we are all offered some measure of knowledge. That knowledge gives us some insight into the love and mercy of God. Each of us has a different measure of that knowledge. For some there is a greater understanding of the theoretical principles that uphold the Christian faith; for some there is a greater pastoral awareness and sensitivity; for some there is a simple and profound joy at knowing the risen Christ in their lives. Wherever God meets us on our faith journeys is personal to us, and we should not belittle that point of meeting by comparing ourselves with others.

We are all called to be like Thomas Aquinas. We are all called to be teachers of the faith in whatever way we can, whether it be academic or practical. Let us all pray that, through our words and actions, nothing about Jesus Christ may be hidden and that nothing about God’s love for the whole of humanity may be kept a secret.

Prayers of Intercession

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry and nourish us all with your word.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life, be with us and all who follow you in the way. Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep, recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you. Raise us with them to eternal life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us, accept our prayers, and be with us always.

Prayer for the week

By the prayers of Jesus,
         Lord, teach us how to pray.

By the gifts of Jesus,
         Lord, teach us how to give.

By the labours of Jesus,
         Lord, teach us how to work.

By the love of Jesus,
         Lord, teach us how to love.

By the cross of Jesus,
         Lord, teach us how to live.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.

Hymn

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)