To Give for Christ

My kids all seem to be circling through a cold this week. They all seem to be doing a little better, fortunately, but they are quite grumpy. And so! For my own sanity, I figured I would read through the gospel for tomorrow’s Sunday mass.

The gospel? This one!

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think of St. Martin being the perfect example for this gospel. Here’s a picture of him!

St. Martin and the Beggar, c. 1490. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary. Via
St. Martin and the Beggar, c. 1490. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary.

As the story goes, St. Martin was born in 316 and lived in the Roman Empire around what is known now as Hungary. (And thus, I picked a Hungarian picture!) At the age of 10, he wanted to join the Church.

His father, however, had a different plan for St. Martin. He wanted his son to go into the Roman military, just like him, and become an officer, just like him. He thought that the Christian life would somehow prevent St. Martin from becoming a soldier. (Which was, by the way, a very valid concern!)

As it turned out, the Roman Empire changed things around so that the children of military veterans were required to be in the military. So, at the ripe old age of 15, St. Martin was a cavalry officer.

And that is when this scene happened!

One night while entering the city of Amiens on a bitterly cold day, he noticed a beggar begging at the gates of the city who was not dressed for the cruel wintery weather. St. Martin was pretty cold too — he only wore his uniform as a soldier and a cloak around his arms. Worried about the man, he waited around to see if anyone would give the beggar anything, but nobody seemed to notice him. Finally, St. Martin took his cloak and cut it into two pieces. He gave the beggar one half and took the other half for himself.

That night, he had a strange dream. In the dream, Christ Himself wore the half cloak that St. Martin had given him and told the angels that St. Martin had given it to him.

Shortly after, St. Martin was baptised. A couple years later, he did in fact leave the army — as his father probably expected he would — and created a monastery, choosing to live monastic life. However, he was so beloved, he couldn’t stay there for long! The people of Tours wanted St. Martin to be their new bishop so much that they tricked him into leaving the monastery to their town and wouldn’t let him leave until he agreed to be their bishop!

But that slicing of the cloak is what he is most famous for — it is a beautiful expression of faith and charity to give, even when we don’t have much to give at all. And it beautifully illustrates the gospel and Jesus’s words in a profound way!

May each of us be moved to give what we can for each other so that we can truly follow Jesus!

St. Martin, pray for us!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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