But what particularly provoked my thought was a comment Chris Carlisle, head of the Building Bridges Veterans Program for the Diocese, made at Diocesan Convention. He noted that the first (and only) human being to recognize Jesus as the Son of God in the Gospel of Mark was a Roman soldier.
Chris speculated why that might be. And he came up with a pretty compelling theory. He observed that soldiers know what it means to work together in service to a larger goal, often at great personal risk and great personal sacrifice. That is not a bad description of Christian discipleship at its best.
Of course, soldiers work for the good of the nation, and their methods are often necessarily violent. Christians work for the good of God’s kingdom and, at least in theory, our methods are not violent. But military service could be excellent training for Christian discipleship.
In a wonderful coincidence, the saint we commemorate today is a soldier turned monk named Martin of Tours. After serving in the Roman army, Martin did as much as anyone in the 4th century to promote Christian monasticism in the west.
And so today I give thanks for the men and women in our armed services. And I pray that we can all grow in the military virtues of cooperation, service, and sacrifice.