Today we honour the memory of Saint Martin of Tours. He was imprisoned as a young man for being a conscientious objector and refusing to join the Roman army. It’s interesting that his feast falls on the anniversary of Armistice Day. Martin became a monk in 360 and some have argued that Saint Martin – and not Saint Benedict – is really the founder of monasticism in the Western Church. In 372 Martin became bishop of Tours and he is honoured by the Church for his pastoral zeal. He died in 397 and today is the anniversary of his burial.
On this anniversary of Armistice Day we remember the sacrifice of those men and women of the armed services who gave their lives that we may live in security and peace. Let us also pray for those currently serving in the troubled areas of the world, that the Lord will protect them and bring them home safely.
Today’s first reading was originally addressed to those in authority who abused their power. Some people have a sense of awe about those who exercise power and authority, whether they abuse it or not. Often awe becomes fear; even towards a person who doesn’t have what you would call great authority. Just think about how you feel when you’re driving along and all of a sudden a police car pulls in behind you. If you’re anything like me you sense a little discomfort in your stomach as you check the speedometer and ask yourself if you might have violated a traffic law in the last few minutes. We keep looking in the mirror, hoping the blue flashing lights won’t come on.
God never abuses his authority, nor does he wish to inspire fear in us. No one has greater authority than God and whenever he exercises his power over us it is with the purest motive of love. God wants only what is best for us because he knows what is best for us.
God uses his power and authority to help, not to hinder. In the gospel we’ve just heard Our Lord cures ten lepers. Now this shouldn’t surprise is. What should surprise and shock us is the fact that only one of the lepers, and the foreigner at that, returned to give thanks to God.
All of us have and continue to experience the goodness of God in our lives. Our proper response should be one of gratitude, but even more than that, there should be a realisation that should move us to obey God’s Will, to accept his authority over us, and to place our lives completely in his hands.