Wednesday, 11 November 2015 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard the words of our Lord Jesus Christ about the ten lepers who asked for God’s mercy and healing, and after they have been healed from their afflictions, only one of the ten healed lepers went back on his way and sought Jesus, in Whom he knew that he had been healed, and by Whose power he had been made whole once again.

Meanwhile, the other nine lepers went on their way filled with joy, just as the Samaritan leper who sought Jesus. Yet the difference was that, while the Samaritan sought to give thanks to God for having healed him and made him whole again, the other ten were too engrossed in their own happiness and joy, that they forgot entirely to give thanks to God. Either that, or they were too proud to admit that they have begged the Lord to heal them.

That was why the Lord praised the Samaritan for his gratitude and the due honour that he had shown to the Lord. He had genuine and true faith in Jesus, for he knew that it was not by his own power or ability that he had been healed, and it was the Lord Who heard his prayers and petitions, and listening to his pleas and wishes, granted him the wish for healing he had asked for.

Of course we can see here obviously, that God did not rescind the healing which had been given to the other nine lepers. Neither did He curse them or be angry at them for not having thanked Him as they should have done. Rather, He was likely indeed sad for them, as these nine people went back to their old lives and acted as if nothing had happened. And since they did not give God thanks for what He has done for them, then it is likely that they might just return to their old sinfulness.

Why is this important for us all to take note of? It is because of all the diseases and afflictions that affected us or can affect us, the worst and the most dangerous one is sin, which is the affliction and disease of the soul. And unlike the diseases of the flesh that afflicted the body and the flesh, the disease of sin afflicts the very centre of our beings, that is our souls.

Sin separates us mankind from God, and the corruption it caused to our hearts, minds, flesh and whole being is a great harm for us as we may be brought down into eternal damnation because of those sins which made us wicked and unworthy of God’s blessings and grace. And the worst of it all, is that sin also inherently makes us all unwilling to change for the better and to abandon those sins, for just like cancer, sin grows and solidifies its hold on us as we proceed on in our lives, unless we receive the healing and mending by the Lord.

It is often for us to lose track of our path in the Lord, and many of us became too engaged and occupied with our own worldliness, tempted by all the various temptations of this world, be it money, pleasure, or other forms of wickedness and engagements that distract us from our true focus on the Lord and His precepts and laws. This is also why many of us often forget to thank God for all that He had done for us, and for all of His blessings, as we never think about the Lord unless we are in trouble or difficult times.

This was just what happened when the lepers sought the Lord to be healed, and once they were healed, save for one, they all forgot about Him and went on joyously to their own lives as if the sickness never happened at all. And this amnesia is dangerous as forgetting our sins and evil, we have the tendency to return to them and fall back into sin. Thus, so many people in the past had fallen because of their lack of commitment to the Lord.

In this matter therefore, we should heed the examples of St. Martin of Tours, whose feast day we are celebrating on this day. St. Martin of Tours as his namesake suggested us, was the Bishop of Tours during the waning days of the Roman Empire, the greatest city in what is now southern France. But he was not always a religious from the start, for indeed he came from a military background. He became a Christian at a young age after he attended the Church sessions in his youth.

During his service in the Roman Army, it was noted that St. Martin of Tours despite of his harsh and rigorous training and life as a soldier, he was a good man at heart and is always caring to others around him, and as an army commander, he always took good care of his soldiers wherever they were, practicing his faith in God through action. And on one occasion, which is now famous, the Lord Himself tested him for his devotion.

It was told that one day, during a cold day, St. Martin of Tours was travelling on the horseback wearing his army commander’s mantle when he passed by a poor man on the street who had little clothing and suffering from the cold and the elements. Without second thoughts, St. Martin of Tours, who was then on the process of being accepted into the Church as a catechumen, cut his own cloak into two pieces, and gave one piece to cover the poor man’s body.

That very night, St. Martin of Tours received a vision of Christ Who came to him and showed how He was that poor man, and wearing the half of the cloak given to Him by St. Martin, He praised him in the presence of the angels, praising him that he was still just a catechumen, but yet his faith and devotion was so strong. After all, do we all remember what Jesus said when He spoke about the final judgment? That whatever we do for the sake of our least and weakest brethren, we are doing it for God? That was what St. Martin of Tours had done.

And throughout the rest of his life, and after he was chosen as bishop by his flock, St. Martin of Tours continued to live his life with zeal and dedication to the Lord, and his many works and devotions continue to be our inspiration even to this day. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we also walk in his footsteps? Let us all remember to thank God for all of His blessings and grace, and let us all remember always all of His goodness.

May we all be able to then share all of our joys and blessings with those who have less or none, emulating what St. Martin of Tours had done in giving generously to the poor and the needy. Let us all devote ourselves on the path to become better children and followers of our Lord, that we may be found truly worthy of God’s everlasting inheritance and joy in His kingdom. God bless us all. Amen.