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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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Gospel Reading of the Day reflection

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In France, more than 500 towns and villages have 'Saint Martin' as name, and more than 3000 churches, abbeys, or sanctuaries and dedicated to 'Saint Martin'. Let's just say that the saint we celebrate today is quite popular! Why such a enthusiasm for a saint who was born 1700 years ago?

Martin was born in 316 what is now Hungary, grew up in Northern Italy and became a soldier of the Roman army, like his father. While he was garrisoned in Amiens in Northern France (or rather Gaul), he met a beggar on a cold winter night who asked him for help. Martin cut his overcoat in two parts and gave one to the beggar. The following night, Martin had a vision of Jesus Christ wearing the part of the overcoat he gave to the beggar. From then on, Martin became Christian, was baptised and left the army. Martin set off on his journey back to Northern Italy in order to convert his parents and fight against Arians, those Christians who did not believe that Christ was truly divine. After a while, Martin came back to Poitiers in France and Hilary, the bishop of this diocese, encouraged him to settle in a hermitage, where Martin attracted many disciples. His reputation as miracle worker spread out and reached a city nearby, Tours, where he was unwillingly elected bishop by trickery. But Martin took his charge to heart. Until his death, he travelled, going to and fro in the countryside, dispensing miracles, reinforcing the faith in the Holy Trinity, and promoting monasticism. But above all, Martin seems always merciful and numerous miraculous healings are reported in the cities he visited. Martin's cult among the faithful grew quickly after his death, and even Charlemagne ordered the building of a chapel in Aachen in Germany, the capital city of his kingdom, to conserve Martin's overcoat.

By the way, the reading from the book of Wisdom reminds us today that the Lord of all does not cower before a personage, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike (Wis 6:7). Let us recall that Martin's Christian life and ministry of evangelisation started with an encounter with Jesus Christ in the person of the beggar. Martin, a soldier of the Roman empire, made himself small before someone smaller than him. Thus, he was able to encounter the kingdom of God promised to the poor (Lk 6:20), where God provides for all alike. And after seeing the kingdom of God, he couldn't help preaching it! May the Lord grant us the same charity and the same zeal to proclaim the kingdom of God as Martin! 

 

Br Jean-Baptiste Régis O.P.

Br Jean-Baptiste Régis O.P.


Comments

Jane McCann commented on 15-Nov-2015 09:00 PM
Very interesting blog. Thoughtful and insightful. I wasn't familiar with this Saint. Wonderfully the grace of God encounters someone who as a Roman soldier would have been part of an occupying force. Transformation occurs through St Martin's act of mercy not the might of Rome. A lesson for today as much as 1700 years ago. Many thanks.

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