November 11, 2016
by Tom Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop
Lectionary: 495

2 John 4-9
Ps 119:1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18
Luke 17:26-37
Praying Ordinary Time

When reflecting on today’s readings, I noticed, as many before me have, that John addresses this letter to the “Chosen Lady”. Her identity or role in the church have been discussed. Some believe that the title was meant to indicate the Church as our mother.  I imagine the Chosen Lady as a leader of the congregation of new Christians. If so, I surmise that a contemporary version of the letter may be written as follows:

My Dear Lady,

I rejoice to find some of your congregation walking in the truth; they live as one would who truly loves others. They are living according to the greatest commandment, “love one another.” If they additionally reject the teaching of those who say that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh, they will have both the father and the son to praise. They will certainly receive their full reward in heaven. “Blessed are they”, says the Psalmist, “who follow the law of the Lord”.  Please remind these good people to not be so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

The Gospel is, for me, a more difficult lesson. Jesus underlines over and over that his disciples and those who were listening to him that they would not know the day or the hour that the Son of Man would be revealed. He stressed that they may be going about their normal routines when they would need to stop what they were doing, leave what belongings they had, leave loved ones and friends to heed his coming.  Jesus implied that they would otherwise be lost as were people in Noah and Lot’s time.  “One will be taken, the other left.”   The people, it seems, were confused by this, and respond, “[taken] where, Lord?”  Jesus says, somewhat cryptically, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”  I feel that this passage warns us that our true future, eternal life, is clearly not with the body, but with the spirit.

If we do not heed the coming of the Lord, and ignore Jesus’ warning that we must put matters of everyday life aside to follow him, we will be subject to death. The “vultures” will gather around us. We do have a choice. “Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Choose to follow the Lord, Jesus.

Today, we also memorialize St. Martin of Tours. I have been moved many times by the plight of the poor and homeless. On many occasions, I have been frustrated at the suffering endured and feel that there is almost nothing that I personally can do.  The life of St Martin, who like Ignatius, was first a soldier, is said to have been moved to divide his military cloak in order to share it with a suffering beggar. It seems to be a small gesture, but it may have saved the beggar’s life. Martin was less comfortable, but neither man would die.  He showed some wisdom too, in the sense that he maintained “cura personalis” as the phrase was originally intended.  That is, you must also care for yourself so that you will be able to continue to help others both physically and spiritually. Above all, St. Martin’s actions teach us to continue to love one another.           

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