Vol I No. 7
Daily Thought

Trinity XX Epistle: Thomas Aquinas with Commentary

by William J. Martin



See that ye walk circumspectly. (Ephes. v. 15)

The Apostle in this Epistle admonishes us to circumspection of walking, and he places circumspection itself in three qualities. Firstly, that we should walk discreetly: Not as fools, but as wise. Secondly, with quickness: Be not drunk with wine. Thirdly, humbly: Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. On the first head, the manner of our walking, it is to be noted, that discretion in walking is seen in three ways.

(1) In the election of the things which are to be done. But as wise.

We are to walk in and through the Wisdom of God and not our own. Our own wisdom tends to promote and perfect selfish desires. God’s Wisdom perfects His image and likeness in us and encourages us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

(2) In the comparison of the things which are selected. Redeeming the time.

As we walk, Wisdom directs us to redeem the Time. Redeeming the Time means offering our time up to God so that His Wisdom might mold, fashion, rule, and govern it. Lots of people, again, pursue selfish lusts and do not ask God what He would have them do with His Time. God makes time and intends that we should discover His intention and purpose for it.

(3) In inclining towards the proper end.Understanding what the will of the Lord is.

When we walk, we must open up to God’s Wisdom so that it might begin to consecrate and hallow time, God’s Will is more easily discerned. So God’s truth informs Time and we begin to learn what His Will is. The habit of studying God’s Wisdom and applying it to His Time will enable us to better grasp His Desire. Acclamation to God’s Wisdom in His Time makes His Will more desirable.

2. In the second place, the dispatch in walking consists in two things.

(1) In the fear of hindrances. Be not drunk with wine.

We are to walk with urgency. If we are drunk with wine, we handicap our minds and retard their progress towards our intended end. Our end is salvation. If any earthy addiction to a false god consumes us, we cannot walk with the alacrity and dispatch that God plans for us. We should identify all false gods that impede our journey to the Kingdom.

(2) In the indwelling of that which is better. But be ye filled with the Spirit.

We are to walk with the Holy Spirit indwelling us. He will enable us to walk with perseverance and diligence after our intended end. He will reveal to us triggers and catalysts that lead to demonic distractions. He will reveal ways out of their enticements.

3. In the third place, that the humility of spiritual walking consists in two things.

(1) In relation to God. Giving thanks unto God

When we walk, we must be giving God the thanks and praise. Our walk is being redeemed by the Holy Spirit, and so we should be thankful that we are being redeemed and sanctified. If we are not, then we are in trouble with God. Our walk is meant to be one of thanksgiving and praise. God enables us to walk in the right way to His Kingdom. Without Him, we cannot walk at all.

(2) In relation to one’s neighbour. Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. You see by this how we ought to walk circumspectly. The Apostle exhorts us in these words that we should walk cautiously in this way for three reasons.

(1) Because we walk in the midst of snares: Thou art going in the midst of snares, and walking upon the arms of them that are grieved. (Ecclus. ix. 20)

When we walk, we must be aware of the dangers that other people pose for us. We should not judge the person but the sin through which they knowingly or unknowingly try to deceive, entrap, and catch us.

(2) Because we walk in the midst of robbers: As troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent. (Hosea vi. 9) His troops come together, and raise up their way against me. (Job xix. 12) 

All sorts and conditions of men can try to steal the Divine Image and Likeness from our lives. They long to murder and kill the soul’s faith in God, love of God, and hope in God. They long to sever us from God by reason of their imbecility and irrationality.

(3) Because we walk in the midst of pits: And the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits. (Gen. xiv. 10) Fear, and the pit, and the snare are upon thee, oh inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit. (Isa. xxiv. 17, 18)

We are surrounded by pitfalls and ditches that could very well lead us into Hell. As we walk the walk of Jesus Christ, are we aware of those pitfalls that might have already started to swallow us up? Are we conscientiously cautious and circumspect to the dangers that surround us? Are we already in grave danger? If anything has impeded the free flow of God’s generosity into and out of us, we are already well on the way to Hell. Let us realize that we live in dark and dangerous times. Let us walk in the Light of Christ that He might reveal to us the dangers that confront us via temptation and sin.

  1. On the second head, the conditions of our walking, it is to be noted. In the first place, that we walk in the midst of three snares. These are snares of the spirit.

(1) The iniquity of the proud. The proud have hid a snare for me they have set gins for me. (Ps. cxlv)

The proud spirits seek to convince us that we are humble enough, meek enough, and lowly enough. We are not.

(2) The lust of the avaricious: But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (1 Tim. vi. 9)

Spirits of greed and avarice want to enslave us to their ways. They want to convince us that we love enough, are generous enough, have given enough. We have not.

(3) The perversity of false accusers: And hast preserved my body from destruction, from the snare of an unjust tongue, and from the lips of them that forge lies. (Ecclus. i. 3)

Spirits of lying, false witness, gossip, and slander convince us that we are honest enough, true enough, and candid enough. We are not.

In the second place, that similarly we walk in the midst of three kind of robbers. These are robbers of the soul.

(1) The Devil: The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. (St. John x. 10)

The Devil and his friends want to rob us of our Divinely Desired Destiny. The Devil wants to kill and destroy our desire to be saved by God through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. The Devil convinces us that we are not worshiping Him. We are.

(2) The flatterer: The thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without. (Hos. vii. 1)

Flattery is a mortal sin. The Devil flatters us with exaggerated praise and honor. He would have us think that at least we are doing such and such and that we are not being unfaithful to God. We are.

(3) Vain glory: S. Gregory says that as a certain robber it joins itself to the human traveller in the way; that it seeks those who are incautious, and spoils them, especially seeking to despoil those who bear treasure publicly in the way. And, again, that the appetite for human praise is a certain robber, which gladly unites to those who are walking in the right way, that their eyes being pried away they may be slain by the sword which hangs from their path. St. John Chrysostom observes that vain-glory is the one thief, which robs us of our treasure laid up in heaven. The Devil steals souls; the flatterers steal purity of conscience; vain-glory steals the reward of eternal glory.

The Devil steals our souls away from God. Flatterers steal purity of conscience, which would show us how far we are from God’s goodness and holiness. Vain glory steals from us the reward of glorious salvation. All three lie to us and tell us that we are not far from the Kingdom. We are.

(3.) In the third place, that we similarly walk in the midst of three pits. These are pits for the body.

(1) Woman, or luxury. The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein. (Prov. xxii. 14) The abhorred of the Lord is the son of wrath. He who embraces the words or kisses of a strange woman knocks as at the door of an abyss, and unless he draws back his feet, restraining his members, he will fall into that penal pit into which none except the son of wrath falls down.

Lust of the flesh threatens to impede the progress of the Christian pilgrim. Wrath, anger, fury, rage, resentment, and bitterness give birth to lust of the flesh. The soul collapses into the flesh because it despairs of the spirit.

(2) Gluttony and drunkenness: Who falls into pits. (Prov. xxxiii) Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine. (Prov. xxxiii)

The soul that has despaired of the spirit’s walk towards God sinks into food and drink. What soothes and satisfies in small ways at first becomes a false god. The soul sinks into the body and the body craves more food or drink. The amounts increase the more the false god is worshiped and adored. What began as a harmless need or desire becomes an addiction.

(3) The grief of the hypocrites and evil-doers: There shall the great owl make her nest. (Isa. xxxiv. 15) The owl signifies the double dealers,who hide intentions under the thorns of duplicity. The foxes have holes… (St. Matt. viii. 20) On account of the danger of snares, we ought ever to walk cautiously before the Lord, that He Himself may draw our feet out of the trap. St. Augustine says: I resist the seducers that my feet may not be entangled by which I walk in Thy way, and I will lift up to Thee the invisible eyes that Thou mayest draw my feet out of the snare. Whence dost Thou draw them, for if they seek Thee, Thou ceasest not to lift them up. But I, therefore, run where the snares are scattered abroad. On account of the danger of robbers we ought to walk cautiously, armed for walking with all spiritual arms. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. (Ephes. vi. 13) On account of the dangers of pit-falls, we ought to walk cautiously, We must be walking with gravity and by the light of grace: Let us walk honestly as in the day. (Rom. xiii. 30)

We must see that Vain Glory can and will be our downfall if we do not fall to our knees and bewail our sinfulness. What is being recommended here is not desperate and hopeless groveling. Rather what is being encouraged is a healthy sense of our powerlessness. Such will lead to humility. And that will enable the Holy Spirit to transform our lives in an ongoing fashion.