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!
27 “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 34If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit [is] that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. 35But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful.37 “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. 38Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
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!
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!