Homily for Nov. 11, Friday of the XXXII week in Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours
Today’s liturgy presents us with a variety of disparate themes to think about. We have the first reading and psalm, that speak to us about discovering God through the beauty and order in nature. Then we have the Gospel, that is warming us up for the upcoming Solemnity of Christ the King, by talking about being prepared for the definitive coming of the Lord and the visible establishment of His Kingdom. To round things off, today is the feast of St. Martin of Tours. And how can we ignore Veterans’ Day? Believe it or not, I think we can bring all of this together.
St. Martin was not originally a Christian. He was born in the years just after Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire, so most of the world – including Martin’s family – was still pagan. He discovered the Lord while yet an adolescent, and converted to Christianity against the will of his parents. Today, there are still many people who do not know the truths revealed by Christ. Even many people who bear the name of Catholic or Christian know very little about the faith. I invite all of us today to pray that people everywhere will have open hearts, like St. Martin did, and will discover the presence of God in their lives, whether it be through the beauty of creation or through the preaching and example of men and women of faith. May that experience lead them to grow in their knowledge and practice of the faith.
St. Martin was baptized while serving in the Roman army. One of the most famous episodes in his life was when he cut his soldier’s mantle into two so he could give part to a naked beggar. Later, Christ appeared to Martin in a dream wearing the piece of his mantle, indicating that by helping the beggar, Martin had helped Christ Himself. He served two more years in the military after his baptism, and later became a priest and then the bishop of Tours. He was known for being compassionate and generous, and for obtaining miracles through his prayers. He was a veteran who served God and neighbor as a soldier and later as a man of God.
May God bless all veterans today for putting their lives on the line to serve their country. May God bless them and their families, and all those who have fallen in combat, for Jesus teaches us in the Gospel today that “whoever loses his life” for love of God and neighbor “will save it”. May the Lord help us all to be ready to serve the King of Heaven, our final homeland, so that when He comes again in glory, He will take us to himself in the triumphant peace of His Kingdom.