Author G.K. Chesterton once pondered the peculiar spectacle of St Francis and St. Thomas coming over a hill together in their friar’s gowns – the former in his brown and the latter in his Dominican black – and what an amusing contrast they would have given.
You see St. Francis was a lean and lively little man; thin as a thread and vibrant as a bowstring; like a thin brown skeleton autumn leaf dancing eternally before the wind. St. Thomas, on the other hand, was a heavy bull of a man; fat and slow and quiet; mild and magnanimous but not very sociable. St. Francis was so fiery and even fidgety that people before whom he did appear quite suddenly would often take him for a madman. St. Thomas, on the other hand, was so stolid that the academics in the schools he attended regularly thought him a dunce. St. Francis was passionately fond of poems and famously conversed with the animals. While St. Thomas bothered his head with every hair-splitting distinction and deduction and notoriously talked to himself. (Abridged from Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Dumb Ox by G. K. Chesterton, p.3)
We have then a picture of two men dissimilar in every way except, of course, in the way that matters most for us – for both wore the sandals of a saint. It is a poignant reminder that, as Christians, we do not celebrate diversity; we marvel at our oneness in light of it.
The very differences which the Lord has willed to put between the members of his body serve its unity and mission. For in the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. (CCC # 873)
Rest assured that, even if only just, God has provided each of us all the gifts and talents necessary to fulfill our purpose here on earth. We must be vigilant to remember, however, that God did not provide us with a footpath to heaven. He provided us a light – or more pointedly – a beacon. With the benefit of its illumination, we are each left to plot our own course with stock in our unique set of gifts and talents; and to navigate that course with as much energy or sloth as freewill allows. No less of a personal call to our vocations would seem befitting of a personal God for whom even the hairs of your head are all numbered. (Luke 12:7)