Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr; 1170

When Thomas Becket was a young man he was an unlikely candidate for Martyrdom.  

Chancellor of England and good friend of King Henry the II, he lived the good life (for medieval times anyway) He enjoyed the wealth and power that came with his high position.

Then Henry II decided to make him archbishop.  At this time there was a power struggle going on between the King and the church and Henry no doubt thought putting his good buddy in such a position would strengthen his position.  He thought Becket would take his side.

The King was in for a surprise.  

Perhaps Thomas Becket surprised himself.  He rose to the occasion.   As he described it he changed from being “a patron of play actors and a follower of hounds to a shepherd of souls”.  He led a much more austere life, looked after the interests of the church and did not take Henry’s side in his quarrels with the church.
Becket became such a throne in Henry’s side that in a rage he is said to have demanded “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”  There is always someone to indulge the king and on December 29, 1170, four knights murdered the archbishop in front of the altar in his cathedral.

The people were shocked by this brazen murder of their Archbishop. Beckett was soon declared a saint and King Henry subjected himself to a public whipping by monks of the abbey as penance.

You just never know what you are capable of until you are called.  

And if God puts you in a position, God must figure you can handle it. 

Almighty God, you granted your martyr Thomas the grace to give his life for the cause of justice: Keep your household from all evil and raise up among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I remember seeing the movie Beckett many years ago and crying and crying for hours.