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Vol I No. 1
Daily Thought

Advent II: Thomas Aquinas with Commentary

by William J. Martin

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For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. (Rom. xv. 4)

THE Apostle has taught us on the preceding Sunday to arise from the dead; on this day he teaches us towards what we ought to arise, for the Scripture, which our heavenly Master has given for us, is to be studied and read. And the Lord as a good Master was the more solicitous to provide us with the best writings, that He might make us perfectly instructed. Whatever things, he said, were written, were written for our learning. But these writings are comprised in two books that is to say, in the Book of Creation, and in the Book of Scripture. The first book has so many creations: it has just so many most perfect writings, which teach the truth without a lie; hence, when Aristotle was asked whence he had learnt so many and so great things, answered, From the things themselves, which know not how to deceive. 

Holy Scripture is first a Book of Creation. In and through the creation we discover not only that things exist but we discover their respective meanings and purposes. Aristotle teaches us that we come to know through an exhaustive study and examination of all particular forms of being. This knowledge teaches us that God has made all things and to what end each thing is moved and directed.

But they teach two things to be learned; and of the things which may be known four things are to be taught. First, that there is a God; secondly, that this God is one; thirdly, that this God is triune ; and, fourthly, that He is the highest good.

For the world teaches by itself that it is His work. For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen, to be known thereby. (Wisd. xiii. 5) 

It would be irrational to suppose that things make themselves. Every thing that makes another thing must possess the power or potency to do so. All sorts of created things are able to reproduce themselves, but this does not mean that they possess the wisdom to do so but only the power. So created things can replicate their being but not their meaning. Angels and men can discern the meaning of all things, and yet this does not mean that they have made them. Man knows that he does not give being or meaning to the creation. Yet by studying effects he can come to discern causes until he finally reaches the first cause or ultimate meaning. As he does so he can come to see the combined and harmonious beauty of all things. The combined beauty and goodness that his mind can discern comprises the summation of individual talents that work with each other for the greater good. The intellectual truth and meaning of it all is finally in God as the First Cause.

Because they are one, and are preserved, in the same manner, they teach the unity of God; for, if there were many Gods, the world would have already been destroyed, since division is the cause of destruction. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. (St. Matt. xii. 25)

When we study the universe we must arrive at one cause or else we shall be searching in an infinite regression that never stops. The one or unified cause is what binds all being and meaning to a singular cause. This cause contains within itself being and meaning, which are two names for the unified nature of God. So the cause cannot be multiple. Multiplicity is division, and division separates, isolates, and destroys. Unity draws all things to itself as being finds meaning and meaning is singularly reconciled to the singular vision of God.

For all things exist by number, weight, and measure; or, according to S. Augustine, On the Trinity, by mode, by species, and by order; so that they teach a three-fold Godhead. Thou hast ordered all things in measure, number, and weight. (Wisd. Xi. 21)

Creation reveals a multiplicity that can be traced to the trifold relations of God’s inner being. God is one Substance and three Persons. First, all things are made according to measure or mode of existing. This derives from the being of God the Father. Second, all things are made according to species or number, that by which it is distinguished from all others through the Wisdom of the Son. Third, all things are made according to order or weight, that by which it relates to and is like all other things through the love of the Holy Spirit. So traces of God the Holy Trinity are found in nature. Being, Knowing, and Loving are all seen, if ever so slightly, in the being and meaning of all created things.

Because all things are good, they teach that He is the highest goodness through Whom so many good things proceed. According to St. Augustine it is a great token of goodness that every creature conceives itself to be good; therefore, because God is good, so are we.

Every creature strives through the laws of its nature to preserve or conserve its being. This is a sign of the goodness attached to existing and persevering. All natures are good and all natures resist their own dissolution and death to the extent that they are able. Goodness is found in being. The intellectual goodness of being is found in a meaning that strives to imitate the everlasting being of God’s goodness.

Today let us study Scripture to learn about our created being and its meaning. Let us strive to find God as the First Cause, God as One, God as Three, God as Goodness. Let us strive to claim and confess our utter dependence upon him for our being, our knowing, and our loving. Let us find our being’s meaning in His oneness. Let us find our being’s meaning more specifically in His Existence, His Wisdom, and His Love. Let us find our goodness not merely in existing, but in the goodness that perfects our natures the wellbeing He intends for us.  

©wjsmartin