11th November. Tuesday of Week 32.


Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop.

Martin (316-397) was born in Pannonia (now Hungary), where his father was a senior cavalry officer. When Martin was conscripted he too joined the cavalry, but finding army life incompatible with his faith Martin found his way to France, where he became Bishop of Tours. There is a story him using his sword to cut his cloak in two, to give half to a beggar clad only in rags in the depth of winter. His life as recorded by Sulpicius Severus, included many miracles, and throughout the middle ages Martin’s shrine in Tours was a pilgrimage stopping-point en route for Compostela in Spain.

First Reading: Titus 2:1-8, 11-14

Practical instructions, so that all may live good lives while awaiting the return of our Saviour.

But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Gospel: Luke 17:7-10

We ought to reckon ourselves as merely servants who have done no more than is our duty.

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”


Applying doctrine to practice

In his advice to Titus,  Paul respects the limits of the church’s local culture, yet also sets our human life within a divine framework. He begins with an appeal that our speech be “consistent with sound doctrine” and explains that the core of this sound doctrine is about the “glory of the great God and of our Saviour Christ Jesus.” What we do on earth will determine how we shall relate to Jesus in his glorious second coming.

In between, Paul is quite pragmatic. Both his words here and today’s gospel accept social and cultural structures which are not acceptable today. Jesus refers to slavery and to what a master can expect from the slave. For work well done the master would not necessarily show any gratitude, because the slave was only carrying out his orders. Jesus is not endorsing slavery, though he was preparing the way for its abolition by emphasizing the dignity of every individual. At the end, if we trust, we will not only understand truth, as Wisdom promises us, but we will also be absorbed within a joy and glory far surpassing our human merits. Everything will seem useless by comparison.


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