Isaiah 49:13–26 (Listen)
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the LORD has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
17 Your builders make haste;
your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
18 Lift up your eyes around and see;
they all gather, they come to you.
As I live, declares the LORD,
you shall put them all on as an ornament;
you shall bind them on as a bride does.
19 “Surely your waste and your desolate places
and your devastated land—
surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants,
and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children of your bereavement
will yet say in your ears:
‘The place is too narrow for me;
make room for me to dwell in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart:
‘Who has borne me these?
I was bereaved and barren,
exiled and put away,
but who has brought up these?
Behold, I was left alone;
from where have these come?’”
22 Thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
and raise my signal to the peoples;
and they shall bring your sons in their arms,
and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
and lick the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the LORD;
those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”
24 Can the prey be taken from the mighty,
or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?
25 For thus says the LORD:
“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken,
and the prey of the tyrant be rescued,
for I will contend with those who contend with you,
and I will save your children.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh,
and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.
Then all flesh shall know
that I am the LORD your Savior,
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Galatians 3:1–14 (Listen)
By Faith, or by Works of the Law?
3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Mark 6:30–46 (Listen)
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Jesus Walks on the Water
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
Psalm 116 (Listen)
I Love the Lord
116:1 I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The LORD preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
9 I will walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I believed, even when I spoke:
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my alarm,
“All mankind are liars.”
12 What shall I render to the LORD
for all his benefits to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 147:13–20 (Listen)
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 26 (Listen)
I Will Bless the Lord
26:1 Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with men of falsehood,
nor do I consort with hypocrites.
5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence
and go around your altar, O LORD,
7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
Psalm 130 (Listen)
My Soul Waits for the Lord
A Song of Ascents.
130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
Thomas Aquinas, Teacher, 1274 (January 28)
About the Commemoration
Next to Augustine, Thomas is perhaps the greatest theologian in the history of the Western Church. His insistence that the Christian scholar must be prepared to meet other scholars on their own ground, to become familiar with their viewpoints, to argue from their premises, has been a permanent and valuable contribution to Christian thought. During the thirteenth century, the works of Aristotle began to be available again in the West through Eastern European sources and through Islamic Arab sources in Africa and Spain. Some began to embrace Aristotle as an alternative to Christianity; some denounced him as an enemy of the Christian faith; some tried to hold both Aristotelian and Christian ideas side by side. Thomas, immersing himself in the ideas of Aristotle, undertook to explain Christianity in a language that would make sense to followers of Aristotle. It was at the time a radical and dangerous idea.
Surprisingly little is known with certainty about the life of this enormously influential theologian. Thomas, one of nine children, was born of a noble family at Roccasecca, near Aquino in southern Italy, ca. 1225. In 1231, at the age of five or six, he was given to the nearby Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, of which an uncle had been abbot; his parents had planned that he follow in the footsteps of his successful relative. As a monk he was sent to complete his education at the University of Naples from 1239 to 1244. While there he was introduced to the writings of Aristotle.
The young monk was drawn to the new Dominican Order of Preachers when he was nineteen, and toward the end of April 1244, he received the mendicant habit at the Priory of San Domenico in Naples. His family strongly opposed his entrance into this new order of begging monks and brought him home by force. They were, however, unable to change his mind, and by the summer of 1245 he returned to Naples to rejoin the monastery there. In 1245 or 1246 Thomas went to Paris, then to Cologne, where he studied under Albert the Great. As a student he was large in stature and shy by nature. (His fellow students dubbed him the Dumb Ox.) At Paris a conflict between the mendicant and the secular clergy became so intense that when Thomas finally gave his inaugural lecture as a master, he and his audience had to be protected by soldiers. The university refused to recognize his status, despite papal intervention on his behalf. Thomas and his exact contemporary Bonaventure were finally admitted to full magistral privileges August 12, 1257, with the bishop and most of the secular masters conspicuously absent.
Paris in the 1250s enjoyed the presence of a remarkable trio of saints. The king was St. Louis IX (see August 25), St. Thomas occupied the chair of theology assigned to his order, and the head of the school, another Italian theologian, was a Franciscan, St. Bonaventure. All three were friends. Bonaventure, born in 1221 at Bagnoregio near Viterbo, is known for his deep mystical piety as well as his profound theological and philosophical learning. Like Thomas, Bonaventure knew Aristotle well but regarded him as inferior to Plato. In 1265 he rejected the pope’s invitation to become Archbishop of York, but in 1273 he acceded to the pope’s insistence that he become cardinal and Bishop of Albano. He died at the Council of Lyons, July 15, 1274; his traditional feast day is July 15. (See Christopher M. Cullen, Bonaventure [New York: Oxford University Press, 2006].)
Thomas returned to Italy in 1259. His exact movements are unclear, but he was in Orvieto when, according to Bartholomew of Lucca, Thomas composed the Corpus Christi office, which was introduced in 1264. His authorship of the texts has been disputed, but now it is increasingly accepted. His hymns continue to be sung in many contexts: Adoro te devote, “Humbly I adore thee, verity unseen”; Lauda Sion, “Zion, praise thy Savior singing”; Pange, lingua, gloriosi corporis mysterium, “Now, my tongue, the mystery telling”; Salutaris hostia, “O saving victim, opening wide the gate of heaven”; Tantum ergo, “Therefore we before him bending.” In 1265 Thomas was in charge of a studium in Rome in the priory of Santa Sabina and spent much of his time writing. (One skill that Thomas never learned was good handwriting. His manuscripts are notorious for their illegibility.)
Thomas returned to Paris by 1269. The old controversy broke out again, this time concerning the traditional Augustinian theology versus the newly discovered Aristotle, as well as the old hostility against the mendicants. The hostility of the traditionalists against Aristotle led by the bishop of Paris on December 10, 1270, to condemn eighteen errors in the teaching of what was an exaggerated Aristotelianism.
The atmosphere at Paris was clearly uncongenial to scholarship, so Thomas left for Florence in 1272 to attend a general meeting of his order, and then went to Naples where he taught for the remaining two years of his life. On December 6, 1273, at the conclusion of the St. Nicholas Mass he departed from his usual custom of spending the rest of the day after mass writing or teaching, and never again wrote or dictated anything. For whatever reason—stroke, mystical experience, mental breakdown—his productive life was over. Questioned by his companion Reginald, he is said to have replied, “I cannot go on….All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.”
In poor health he was summoned to the Council of Lyons, where reconciliation of the Eastern and Western Churches was planned. He fell sick on the journey and was taken to the Cistercian Abbey of Fossa Nuova near Maenza where he died March 7, 1274, not yet fifty years old. He was canonized in 1323 and since 1567 has been known by the title “the Angelic Doctor.”
Thomas’s work is one of the great expressions of the relationship between the experienced facts of everyday life and the teaching of Catholic theology. His boldly innovative system attempted to make sense of life without destroying its mystery, and it saved Christian theology from the corroding effects of non-Christian Aristotelian and Arabic philosophy. Finally, Thomas for all his intellectual gifts, was a man of humility and deep piety.
On the calendar in the Lutheran Book of Worship Thomas is commemorated on the date of his death, March 7, but this date is also the commemoration of Perpetua and her companions. It is more convenient therefore to remember him on January 28, the date of the removal of his relics to Toulouse in 1369; this is the date of his commemoration on the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and Evangelical Lutheran Worship calendars.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: Thomas Aquinas
From Summa Contra Gentiles by Thomas Aquinas
The pursuit of wisdom is more perfect than all human pursuits, more noble, more useful, more full of joy.
It is more perfect because as one gives oneself to the pursuit of wisdom one even now shares in true beatitude. Therefore a wise man has said. “Happy are those who fix their thoughts on wisdom.” [Ecclesiasticus 14:20]
The pursuit of wisdom is more noble because especially through this pursuit one approaches a likeness to God, who made all things by wisdom [Ps. 104:24]. And since likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom joins humanity to God in friendship. That is why it is said of wisdom, “She is an inexhaustible treasure for humanity, and those who profit by it become God’s friends.” [Wisd. 7:14]
The pursuit of wisdom is more useful because through wisdom we arrive at the everlasting kingdom: “Honor wisdom so that you may reign for ever.” [Wisd. 6:21] The pursuit of wisdom is more full of joy because “there is no bitterness in her company, no pain in life with her, only gladness and joy.” [Wisd. 8:16]
And so, in the name of the divine Mercy, I have the confidence to embark upon the work of wisdom, even though this may surpass my powers; and I have set myself the task of making known, so far as my limited powers will permit, the truth that the Catholic* faith professes, and of setting aside the errors that are opposed to it. In the words of Hilary, “I am aware that I owe this to God as the chief duty of my life, that every word and sense may speak of him.”
Trans. PHP, based on the translation of Anton C. Pegis.
*In this passage, “Catholic” means, of course, the same as it does in the Creeds: whole, entire, complete in all its parts. The opposite of Catholic is heretic: a person, faith, or church, which accepts only selected parts of the received teaching,
Almighty God, you have enriched your church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enable us, we pray, to grow in wisdom by his teaching and deepen our devotion by the example of his faith and holy life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
PHP.RS + LFF
Readings: Wisdom 7:7-14; Psalm 37:3-6,32-33 or 119:97-104; 1 Corinthians 3:5-11; Matthew 13:47-52
Prayers: For the spirit of inquiry; For the gift of wisdom; For grace to perceive the mystery of God’s presence; For teachers of theology; For the grounding of theology always in prayer and in the life and worship of the church.
Preface: Trinity Sunday
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.