Day 5: December 29: The Feast of St. Thomas Becket. Martyr
1 John 2:3-11
The 5th day of Christmas is meant to honor St. Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred on this date in 1170. King Henry II had appointed Becket as Archbishop because he thought Becket would provide him favors since they had been friends. King Henry asked Beckett to use his influence as Archbishop to give the King more power over the church and the country. Becket refused and the two who were once friends became enemies. 1 John 2:4-5 says, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.” Becket’s desire to keep God’s commandments made him an enemy of the King of England.
As Becket repeatedly stood in the way of the King’s desire for power, King Henry grew more hateful toward Becket. The King’s hatred for Becket encouraged four men to assassinate the Archbishop to gain the King’s favor. 1 John 2:9 says, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” Satan hates humanity and wants to destroy us. Hatred is a thing apart from God, so any one who hates cannot be following God because as the passage says, darkness has blinded his eyes. The story of Becket also shows us that we need to be mindful of hatred as much as we focus on love.
Christmas is often associated with the idea of loving friends and family. 1 John 2:10 says, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light,” But John
also is careful to warn us to be on guard against hatred and the darkness it produces. Thomas Becket’s murderers loved the king and tried to prove their love by supporting his hatred and sin. Becket loved his friend, but he understood that it would not be truly loving of him to further the King’s greed. This Christmas season, we should remember not only to love others but also to forgive and destroy the hatred in our own hearts. Becket’s example also reminds us that serving God and bearing witness to the truth is always the right choice, even when we face earthly consequences.
Prayer of the Day:
God, thank you for dwelling within us and loving us so much that we can always trust in you. Please guard our hearts from sinful thoughts so that we can always stay focused on your love. Help us use St. Becket as an example for how we should love the people around us unconditionally as you love us unconditionally.
Following St. Becket’s death, people from all over Europe started going on pilgrimages to the site of his death to pray. While you probably don’t have time to go on a two week trip with everything else going on, it might be a good idea to go out on a walk with some friends or family, or even by yourself. While walking, reflect on the story of St. Thomas Becket, and think about where in life you need to put God before other things.