St Thomas of Canterbury, Bishop and Martyr
The Feast of St Thomas Becket shows us that in participating in the dignity of the Christ-Priest as Archbishop of Canterbury, he knew how to prove himself, like Christ, the shepherd who defends his flock against the ravages of the wolf (Gospel).
King Henry II wished him to sanction customs contrary to the liberties of the Church. St Thomas knew that to make this divine Society subservient to the secular power would be to violate her very constitution, and so he declared that "as a Priest of Jesus Christ he would willingly suffer death in defence of the Church of God." He was slain in his cathedral by the king's soldiers on 29th December 1170.
Against those who seek to enslave the Church, let us neither employ the craft of politics nor the weapons of warfare, but after the example of "the glorious Thomas who fell by the swords of the wicked in the defence of the Church" (Collect) let us know how to withstand them resolutely with all the moral strength that the defence of the rights of God inspires.