I just Googled today’s saint, Martin of Tours, and Google served me up a homily I wrote sometime in the past. I’ll just reprint it here.
Today’s saint was one with a concern for the underdogs. At age ten Martin had angered his father by his becoming a Christian, but he followed his father into the Roman Guard officer’s class. Then, one cold evening, returning to his barracks on horseback, Martin was moved at the sight of a shivering beggar. Leaping down, and drawing his sword, Martin slit his cape in half, giving half to the beggar Then, in a dream Martin saw Jesus wrapped in the half cape; and he left the army, becoming the bishop of Tours.
In 1954 Time magazine published this poem by Phyllis McGinley; and my sister Peg sent a copy of it to me in Korea.
Martin of Tours, when he earned his shilling
Trooping the flags of the Roman Guard
Came on a poor aching and chilling
Beggar in rags by the barracks yard.
Blind to his lack, the guard went riding.
But Martin a moment, paused and drew
The coat from his back, his sword from hiding,
And sabered his raiment into two.
Now some who muse on the allegory
Affect to find it a pious joke;
To the beggar what use, for Martin what glory
In deed half-kind and part of a cloak?
Still, it has charm, and a point worth seizing.
For all who move in the mortal sun
Know halfway warm is better than freezing
As half a love is better than none.
This verse teaches a valuable lesson. It tells you to ignore the advice that has you helping out only when you can completely take care of another’s misery. Realize that although people can usually bungle on, somehow taking care of their problems, they sometimes have moments when all becomes hopeless. If at such a moment you step in with just a smidgeon of kindness, it will revive that person’s hope and he or she will go on taking care of the problems.