Without Love I Am Nothing
- “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13,35). “This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you. No one shows greater love than when he lays down his life for his friends” (John 15,12-13).
- “If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it” (1 Corinthians 13,1-3).
- “A religion that is pure and stainless in the sight of God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1,27).
Martin of Charity
- Among the many titles and nicknames St. Martin got during his lifetime, the one that stuck the most is “Martin of Charity.” He was remembered especially for his complete selfishness, his incredible generosity, and the kindness of his way of treating everybody. Charity became a second nature in the poor Lay Brother, who was a true sign of bounty for all kind of people. In the midst of a harsh environment, with so much violence around his peaceful smile was a great relief for many, who would never forget him.
- We would consider his charity and self-denial as extreme. It is said that when his priory was in debt, he implored them: “I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the Order. Sell me.” It is also well known how much he pushed his health and human forces to the extreme, so that more than once his Superiors had to intervene to lessen his tireless self-giving to all, especially to the poor and sick.
- Martin did his best with whatever means he could get striving to do every work of mercy. He spent his whole life as a barber, farm laborer, almoner, and infirmarian among other things. His love was all-embracing, shown both to humans and to animals, including vermin, and he maintained a cats and dogs hospital at his sister’s house.
What We Can Learn from St. Martin To-day
- Nowadays, when we hear that “Love is powerful,” I suppose we think firstly of passionate or romantic love. People would regard love as a blind force that is able to overcome all sort of difficulties and survive in extreme circumstances. However, the face of love that Martin, like many other Saints, has depicted is not linked to the immediate and vain gratification of flame but with the lasting warmth and healthy purification of true charity. I suspect many people would do well learning a bit less about new ways of pleasure, and caring a bit more about Love, with capital L.
- Christian love is today as necessary as always. Not far ago we had before our eyes the beautiful example of Mother Theresa of Calcuta, another great saint so devoted to serve the poor and destitutes. She has become an icon for a whole generation. Love is actual, it is always well received because it is so badly needed.
- Notwithstanding that, we must bear in mind what the apostle teaches us: “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4,10). It is not a matter of heroism; it is a matter of giving permission to God to work freely within us. St. Catherine of Siena used to say: “When the soul sees itself so loved, it cannot avoid committing itself to love.” The short way to love is accepting God’s love.