Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Martin of Tours in the Church and today we also celebrate Veteran’s Day as a country. Today in my homily, I talked about people living in the margins of society and how to reach out to them. In my homily, I forgot to dedicate a few words to the veterans who are in the margins, so I decided to write this article to reflect more about those serving our country in the military.
I have met several people who served and serving in the military. By the way, I sponsored someone serving in the US Army for his Confirmation while I was a seminarian. I prepared a veteran for his sacraments and listened to his struggles with PTSD. I have listened to the stories of some parishioners who were committed in active service in the Army and still committed to the country and to the Church. I taught how to do correctly the sign of the cross to a soldier who was on vacation here in California. He is stationed in Dubai. I have given the Body and Blood of Christ in the celebration of the Holy Mass to countless veterans who struggle with the flashbacks product of dangerous situations in which they got wounded or even lost some of their fellow soldiers.
So veterans are important members of our congregation who usually we forget. I want to dedicate my prayers today for them in the midst of the situation we are living with the pandemic and the social tensions after election day. Veterans in the margins are those suffering to meet their needs with dignity. Some of them are living paycheck by paycheck, some others are suffering from mental illness, and many of them are spiritually afflicted by addictions, desolation, suicidal thoughts and depression, just to name a few. They are not alone. We can help veterans with our prayers.
In context, St Martin of Tours was a soldier before he became a saint. He strived to please God over all. He was able to share his cloak with a beggar not only once but numerous times in the service of the Church, he became a bishop. He was a conscientious objector leaving the Roman army when he was very young to join the ranks of the Church. Eventually, he became a bishop. He took his faith seriously discerning his choices every time in a prayerful mode. Looking at the live of St Martin of Tours, we can see a role model of decision making. Seeing my own live in the light of St Martin’s life, I can see that the greatest mistakes in my life had happened because my lack of discernment. This is something I am still working on.
St Martin was an outsider of the Christian faith, then he converted and became an insider at the age 18. Before his conversion, he was part of the establishment. After his conversion he was like the Samaritan (outsider) in today’s reading (Lk 17:11-19). We are all called to be insiders. We can make feel welcomed those outsiders, like some veterans, who are out there suffering. I am giving out the following statue to the soldier who is coming soon from Dubai. We are call to do something for those in the margins.
Saint Martin of Tours was a great soldier in both arenas: civil and religious. Ultimately we are all soldiers of God, called to be saint soldiers. We are all the time in active duty against the devil: in prayer. In our parish we have a military ministry with pictures posted of those serving our country; we should add our veterans as well so we keep praying for each other.