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Cut and thrust

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it." Matthew 11.12

Thomas Aquinas may have have been financially impecunious but his wealth of intellect and output were prodigious. Probably his best-known work is Summa Theologiae, which includes his reworking of Augustine's Just War Theory, whose influence continues to guide international relations to this day. Aquinas shared the conviction of his (Dominican) Order that the call of Christ was not just to poverty but also to engagement, in order that the Kingdom of God should advance.

This winning combination - of talking the walk and walking the talk - was inspiring to many and challenging to those who preferred to maintain a convenient distance between expounding knowledge and personal habit. This dichotomy remains an uncomfortable feature of life today, perhaps most notoriously among public figures who appear to believe that what they do in private need have no bearing on their civic duty. If we are honest, most if not all of us, are living the same lie to a greater or lesser extent.

Which is why we need the likes of Aquinas, exposing our hypocrisy and pointing us back to Jesus, who demonstrates that quality of life is not to be measured in our possessions but is gained through sacrifice. Similarly, peace in all its richness is enjoyed in living out our faith, rather than withdrawing from the world. So what are we to make of Aquinas' sudden and apparently inexplicable silence, toward the end of his days and at the height of his powers?

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