The story of Becket is very interesting. You have the English King, Henry the Second, who has invaded and taken over the Saxon lands. He has appointed Thomas Becket, a Saxon, as his regent, the man with all the power behind the throne. They went around carousing and painting the town red together. King Henry was not satisfied with the power he had and craved more. The one institution standing in his way? The Catholic church.
Eventually the Archbishop of Canterbury, being an elderly man, passes on to the next life. King Henry thinks he has a brilliant plan, so he appoints his best friend and confidant (who just happens to be an Arch Deacon) to the post. Thomas begs him not to, but the King is adamant. So here this man who has been living for self pleasure is now appointed one of the most important figures in the Catholic church of England. At first things go well until Thomas experiences a true conversion... and begins to actually work for Christ. That brings things to a head. Eventually thorugh much political leaning and such they become enemies, and some of the Kings men decide to kill Archbishop Becket. They march into the sanctuary during vespers and run him through.
I could not help but be reminded of Simeon's words from Night Prayer in the divine office, which happens to be the Gospel reading for today:
“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Who would have thought that someone like Thomas Becket would have not only committed his life to God, but also have become a Martyr of the faith? This man who spent his time drinking, sexing, and partying with the King, would eventually stand up to him and die for his flock. What can we learn from this? What lesson is there for us to learn? I think there are many indeed. The one though that stands out is the need for a good examine, a proper look at the end of the day, to determine if we too are living the life that we need to be living. Are we working to bring about God's will? Or living for our own pleasures? As a man who has lived a sordid past, I find myself sometimes reminiscing about the past. Are we ready to let it go? Is there anything standing in the way of Christ being born into our lives? Are we ready to go in peace?
There is that word... it's been coming up so often lately. Peace. We, like Simeon, have seen Christ lifted up before our hearts. Simeon yearned for Christ so much that at the sight of him, he felt his life was full, he had seen all he needed to see... he was ready to die. Do we realize how great a gift the Eucharist is? To receive Christ? To see Him lifted up before our eyes? Are you at peace? I pray that like Elisha's servant my eyes might be opened, that I might see the host of heaven gathered around us. Lord I belive, help my unbelief.
His servant and yours,