“Leaves without flowers: these are they which have words without works.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas,” pg. 42. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
Many people today, ourselves included, speak thousands of words a day. We sit in coffee shops chatting, we fraternize in the dry cleaner’s, we gab with the lady at the bank. We stress with each other over the latest tests and complain about the weather. The vast majority of people have many words to say. But what do we have to give? What can our actions do that our words cannot?
Our actions prove our words true or false. It is true that words hold a great power over men; Scripture validates this when it warns us against a wrong use of our tongue. Actions, however, bring about a result. Words are only words unless they invoke action. So unless our words are spilling forth from our heart of hearts, from the place whence comes all of our good works, from the depths of our soul, they cannot do much good. For if they come from this place, we can be sure that they come from a soul practiced in the works of which she speaks. And when we hear words of this nature, words that come from a person whom we have observed at work in the truths of which they speak, we are comforted and inspired to follow after that example. Then we know that this person is not simply ‘leaves’, but we can see the bloom of truth blossoming in them and creating a fragrant odor which attracts and inspires people to be the same.
Let us pray to be ‘flowers’, not just leaves that speak of flowers and hint at their presence, but let us be the flower which confirms those hints. Then others will know and see the grace of God at work in us, and will know that we both speak and act the truth, and that the truth is what guides our whole being through life.