Today we honour the memory of a quite different type of martyr, a man who gave his life for Christ and his Church, having lived a life with its full complement of sin. Thomas Becket was Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury, and if that wasn’t enough, the best friend of a king. It would be hard to find a greater contrast to the innocent children of Bethlehem whose feast we would have kept yesterday. And yet all of them died at the whim of a king.
Ironically, Thomas Becket is of great importance to us and to the Church in England. Perhaps because he was English, perhaps because he didn’t hesitate from speaking hard and dangerous truths. If anything, he’s an example of what God’s grace can do with unpromising but willing material. In weakness God’s power can be made perfect. Thomas Becket walked, as we walk, on a razors edge, between this world, with all its power, glory, prestige, with its whirl of desire and materialistic temptation, and the real world of eternity and God. This path on the razors edge seeks to lead this world to the Truth without losing our integrity or compromising God’s mysterious interests by confusing them with our own. Saint Thomas Becket shows us where this path may lead us. In the words of Saint Paul to Timothy: those who live religious lives in Christ cannot avoid persecution.
We are not Holy Innocents, and yet despite our weakness and our infidelity, God’s power can do something to bring us and those we serve closer to the truth, closer to reality and closer to the God who waits for us.
Saint Thomas Becket, pray for us.