Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop
(Titus 3:1-7; Luke 17:11-19)
Jesus’ encounter with the lepers in today’s gospel is reminiscent of St. Martin’s meeting a beggar. Martin was a soldier in the Roman cavalry. One day, mounted on a horse (at least in El Greco’s famous painting), he encountered a beggar along the road. The beggar was dressed in rags, and it was winter. Martin cut his cloak in two to share it with the beggar. Shortly afterward, Martin resigned from the army. He reasoned that he could no longer fight wars if he was to be a soldier of Christ.
In the gospel one of the ten lepers whom Jesus heals returns to thank him. No doubt, the beggar was likewise grateful to Martin for sharing his cloak. But perhaps Martin was even more grateful than the man he helped. In sharing his cloak with the poor man, Martin begins the process of conversion that leads to salvation. The gospel demonstrates how the conversion is completed when the converted gives thanks to the Lord.
We likewise have encountered the Lord and been called to conversion. The process may be painful as we are often set in compromising ways. Some of us may be mired in a vice – pornography, drinking, cheating, or the like. Some of us just regard ourselves too highly. We pay little heed to the Lord’s command that we seek God’s will and not our own. Whatever is keeping us away from following Jesus, we will want to give it up. Saints like Martin of Tours testify that we will not regret it.