These days, it seems like we need ear plugs before we turn on cable news. No matter when you turn on the TV, there is always a shouting match between opposing sides, whether over who is responsible for the most recent act of violence, what Russia is actually doing, or the latest in identity politics. One could mourn the loss of true debate, longing for the days of old. Or one could speculate about ways to improve the situation. But in watching these shouting matches, it’s tough to see how truth is a consideration on either side. Both sides desire to be right, but the measure of being right is merely who gets the last or loudest word. People will risk their political careers for a party platform, but will scarcely give any thought to eternal truths.
This is a stark contrast to St. Thomas More, whom we celebrate today. St. Thomas More refused to acknowledge Henry VIII’s divorce for the sake of political expediency and honor, preferring the truth which the Church put forth. He held the esteemed post of Lord Chancellor of England, and gave it up to witness to the truth. And through it all he remained calm. He was, one could say, resting in the truth. Knowing that where he stood was in accord with the truth, he was able to remain calm in the face of argument and adversity, and bear the sufferings which this brought him. He put his confidence in Christ, commending himself to Christ’s mercy and justice. He wrote in a letter to his daughter Meg:
I know this well: that without my fault [Christ] will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him. And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.
St. Thomas More was a man who knew truth, the truth that is Jesus Christ himself. And, having confidence in Christ, he was able to rest in this Truth, remaining calm through the storms that 16th-century England brought him. We, too, are called to rest in this Truth, to come to know Christ, to enter into friendship with him, and to place our trust in him. Doing so allows us to remain calm, to present that Truth whom we know, while bearing the adversity which our witness to the Truth may bring.
St. Thomas More, pray for us.
Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait Study of Thomas More (detail)