Homily for Feast of St. Thomas More

Although the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas More on June 22, the actual date of his martyrdom is July 6.The following homily was given on the Feast of St. Thomas More at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on Thursday, June 22, 2000, at 12:05 a.m. Mass. A "Man for all Seasons" is a title so familiar to us in describing St. Thomas More, the Patron of the Cathedral and the Arlington Diocese. I would also affirm that he is the "Witness for all people." Contemporary society needs witnesses for Christ and the Gospel. St. Thomas More, our diocesan patron, is a model for each of us, whatever our vocation. A witness must love the Lord Jesus more than anyone else. Jesus says so in today’s Gospel. St. Thomas More did love Jesus more than family and friends, though he loved them dearly as well. Do we pray for the grace to love like this? A witness must trust in God for the strength to witness to the Truth with perseverance. "I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith. I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy sea hold me up from drowning. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him" (Letter from prison to his daughter, Margaret). Do we pray for the grace to trust like this? A witness must live the Gospel in words and deeds. This witness is attractive and welcoming even if, at times, silent. Our Holy Father has stated that Christ and His Gospel are the enemies of no one. Rather, the Christian message responds to the deepest desires of the human heart. "Precisely for this reason, the Gospel cannot be imposed, but must be proposed, because only if accepted freely and embraced with love can it be effective." The most effective way of proclaiming the Gospel is by living it. "The witness of a respectful and chaste life, detached from riches and freed from the powers of this world — in other words, the witness of holiness — even if offered in silence can reveal the strength of a believer’s convictions." Do we pray for the grace of holiness, the grace of a holy and effective witness? As we seek St. Thomas More’s help to witness as he did — in love, with trust, through holiness, let us "continue in good deeds and entrust [our] lives to a faithful Creator," as the first reading reminds us. Yes, we pray: "Father, give us the courage to proclaim our faith by the witness of our lives" (Opening Prayer).

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