About the Ox

Why the ox?  The ox has long been a symbol of patience, strength, service, and sacrifice.  Most often, we associate the ox as the sacrificial animal of the old covenant.  The winged ox represents St. Luke, the great physician, due to his emphasis on the sacrificial aspects of our Lord’s atonement in his gospel.   St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, earned the honor to be jokingly called the “dumb ox” by his teacher and mentor St. Albert.  Aquinas was tall, big, kind of pale, and prematurely bald.   At the same time though, a brilliant scholar, and a humble man.

On a general surgery rotation as a fourth year medical student, they called me in to be the 3rd assistant for a cholecystectomy. (gall bladder removal)   That sounds so important…  On the contrary, a baboon could be easily trained to assist in surgery, and probably do a better job!  The student’s job is to stand perfectly still, hold a retractor,  stay out of the way and quiet.  While standing around the operating table, trying not to look too stupid, one of the surgeons asked the other if I was doing a good job.   The surgeon looked at me and then I could see his eyes twinkle above his mask… He then said profoundly, “He’s as smart as on ox.”

Unlike St. Aquinas, I don’t have the gift of being brilliant.  Though, I am big, bald, and sometimes dumb.   I do want to always be humble.  And hopefully, be a servant to others.

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