Catholic Christians and others have just nicely celebrated the Feast of Saint Thomas More – at one time a Chancellor of England.
This is a man who had become a friend of Henry VIII, and who then felt unable to go along with the king’s divorce and his claims to the earthly headship of the church.
Thomas had no great wish to be a hero, certainly no wish to be separated from his wife and children – and he did all that he could not to publicly challenge the monarch.
But others felt that Thomas’s silence shouted out, that his refusal to speak was an affront to the king, and to all who had gone along with him.
Robert Bolt in his wonderful play and in the film that was later made of it “A Man for all Seasons” shows Thomas’s friend the Duke of Norfolk asking Thomas to accept the king’s decision for friendships’ sake, even if he did not believe it to be right.
Thomas knew that he had to be true to his conscience, even if it separated him from his friends, even if it was to separate him from his family.
In the end he dies, praying for the king, and saying he died the “king’s good servant but God’s first”.
Today for many of us, there are issues of conscience.
How do we deal with them, how do we respond when our friends want to go one way, and we believe it to be wrong?
May the life and the response of Saint Thomas More help us all to deal with the many challenges that come to us, at work, in our families, in the work place or in the political sphere.