Thoughts from the Early Church

Commentary by Thomas More

No one has greater love than this, 
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (Jn 15:13)

Let us deeply consider the love of our Savior Christ who so loved his own unto the end that for their sakes he willingly suffered that painful end, and therein declared the highest degree of love that can be.

For, as he himself says: “A greater love no one has than to give his life for his friends.” This is indeed the greatest love that ever anyone had. But yet had our Savior a greater, for he gave his for both friend and foe.

But what a difference is there now, between this faithful love of his and other kinds of false and fickle love found in this wretched world. The flatterer pretends to love you because he dines well with you.

But now if adversity so diminish your possessions that he find your table not laid, then—farewell, adieu—your brother flatterer is gone and gets himself to some other table. And he might even sometime turn into your enemy and cruelly speak evil of you.

Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? When you go forth who will go with you? If you were a king would not all your realm send you on your way alone and then forget you? Will not your own family let you depart a naked, feeble soul, you know not whither?

Let us all in time, then, learn to love as we should, God above all things, and all other things for him. And whatsoever love be not referred to that end, namely, to the good pleasure of God, is a very vain and unfruitful love. And whatsoever love we bear to any creature whereby we love God the less, that love is a loathesome love and hinders us from heaven.

Love no child of yours so tenderly but that you could be content to sacrifice it to God, as Abraham was ready with Isaac, if God so commanded you. And since God will not do so, offer your child in another way to God’s service.

For whatever we love that makes us break God’s commandment, we love better than God, and that is a love deadly and damnable.

Now, since our Lord has so loved us, for our salvation, let us diligently call for his grace that in return for his great love we be not found ungrateful.

A Treatise upon the Passion, Christ’s Love Unto the End”
Homily 1, Partially modernized

Thomas More (1477/78-1535) was born in London. After spending four years in the London Charterhouse without taking vows, he followed his father into the legal profession, eventually becoming Lord Chancellor of England.

His wit and learning made his house in Chelsea the meeting place for scholars such as Erasmus, Colet, and Grocyn. By the integrity of his public life, his virtues as husband and father, and his piety, More gave a shining example of what a Christian layman should be.

His writings include many letters, refutations of the heresies of the time, and devotional works, but the book that made him famous all over Europe was his Utopia.

More refused to sign an oath accepting the Act of Succession because it would have involved the repudiation of papal supremacy. For this he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for fifteen months and finally died a martyr’s death.


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson