St Thomas Aquinas died on this date in 1274, 749 years ago.
The ideas of Aquinas on Natural Law are echoed in the assertion in the American Declaration Of Independence: ““We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ……. “
In his letter from the Birmingham City Jail in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr also referred to Aquinas: “A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”
Towards the end of his life, Thomas Aquinas pointed at his own books and said that his writing “appears to be as so much straw”. This rejection of bookishness by one of the great book writers in human history reminds me of the insightful rearticulation by my new friend Father Michael Bowie of the essence of his own Christian faith: “God is a person not a book.” I have made my own adaptation of these words to suit the emptier spaces of part o the Guercino portrait of Aquinas distracted from his writing seen above and below.
As I see it, the eternal law of God, which Jesus said he came not “to destroy, but to fulfil“, can also be fulfilled in all of us at our best.
Our best is when we speak our minds in ways that help us hear.
I would like to call that theofreedom.
Martin Luthor King (Jr)
And, hopefully, that God-based freedom still lives in us, here and now.
Sincerely, Geoff Fox, 7th March, 2023, Down Under