Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop
(Wisdom 6:1-11; Luke 17:11-19)
There is a story about Robert E. Lee that may help us appreciate today’s patron saint Martin of Tours. Shortly after the American Civil War ended, a former slave attended services at an Episcopalian church in Richmond. When it was time, the African-American strode up for Communion ahead of all the white people. The congregation was aghast; the ministers did not know what to do. Then the former leader of the Confederate Army walked up to the communion rail and knelt close to the former slave. They both received the revered bread together.
Martin was also a former military commander. He is famous for sharing his cloak with a beggar. Like Lee he did not think of himself as too important to commune with those disparaged in society. To the contrary, he saw himself as a reconciler among the people.
Today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom admonishes the rulers of the earth to care for the lowly. It tells them that they will be judged not according to their earthly power but their submission to God’s eternal law. The same rules apply to all of us.