Our parishes this weekend are hosting a priest from the Philippines for our annual mission appeal. That means I had the weekend off from preaching, but I did want to offer a brief reflection on the reading this weekend. I’d like to provide you with the example of a great saint of our Church who exemplifies what St. James calls us today in our readings.
St. Martin of Tours Bishop of Caesarodunum or Tours France in the 4th century of the Church. Before he became a priest and a bishop, he was a soldier in the army and not yet a Christian but in the process of becoming a Catholic. He was in the cavalry riding a horse and helped protect the emperor. One cold day he saw a beggar only wearing rags. Martin took off his military cloak and with his sword cut it in two, keeping one half for himself and gave the other to the poor beggar. That night he had a dream, Jesus was wearing the half-cloak he gave to the poor man. Jesus said to the angels in this dream “Martin a mere catechumen has clothed me.” The next morning he woke up and his cloak was restored in full.
The example of St. Martin is an example to us of the care we should have for the poor and the needy. We may not have to cut our clothing in two, but we can reach out to the poor in our own lives in our midst’s. St. James this weekend challenges us with these words.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?
Those who have more money, are dressed nicely naturally draw us. However, Jesus calls us to reach out to the poor in our midst’s and not be afraid to encounter them or as Pope Francis would say to “smell like the sheep.” I don’t know your situation in life I don’t know how much or how you can help the poor. Take some time this week and reflect when I encounter the poor, the disabled, the refugee, the homeless how do I react to them? Do I turn away from them looking to avoid them, or do I at-least say a prayer for them, and if I’m able to to find a way to assist them in their need? We hope that when we face God in the judgment seat, he will say to us come you who are blessed by my father, for I was hungry, and you gave me food, etc. It is genuinely Jesus we encounter in the poor, may we always seek to reach out to them and care for them to share the gifts we have to build them up and build up the kingdom.