February letter from Mat

What do you know about Thomas Aquinas? No, I didn’t know a lot either. I’m writing this on the day that the church remembers him with thanksgiving. He was an Italian priest in the 13th century who is famous for his theological and philosophical teaching. He was a bright chap, a great teacher and a wonderful thinker who has had an enormous influence on Western thinking. Aquinas devoted his life to teaching and thinking but as he got older he is reported to have said that all his thoughts were ‘as straw’.

Last Sunday evening the evening congregation was challenged about faith in the miraculous. One of the questions posed was, “does our Western intellectual mindset lead to us to dismiss nor see nor expect miracles?” At the beginning of last month we saw the Spirit of God moving in the morning service in a very tangible and exciting way. These events started me reflecting about how we experience and express Christian faith, how we engage with God. Do we rely too much on teaching and learning and not enough on our experience of, and openness to, God through the Holy Spirit? To put it bluntly, do our minds sometimes get in the way of our spirit’s connection with God?

I offer a few thoughts on this. In Jewish thought the separation of mind, body and spirit is not considered. We are created as a whole integrated person. Secondly, I sometimes wonder whether I think too much. Yes, I know that in Romans 12Open Link in New Window Paul writes ‘be transformed by the renewing of your minds’ but he also writes a tremendous amount about engaging with the inexpressible other of God in language of great intimacy. (e.g. Philippians 3Open Link in New Window, Romans 11:33-36Open Link in New Window).

Perhaps this Lent as we rightly reflect on our own lives we might also reflect on the immense grace and love of God and not just in our minds. I’m going to try and meditate on the goodness and love of God and to ask the Holy Spirit to make that increasingly real in my spirit too. Maybe you’d like to join me.

PS On his death bed in his final prayer Aquinas stated that all he had worked for and on had been in love for God.

Mat

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