A SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS.
The story is told of a man named Martin who lived many centuries ago. He had been born in a place called Pannonia, in what is now Hungary. When he was only fifteen years old, his father (an officer in the army of Rome) insisted that Martin become a soldier.
Five or six years later, Martin was riding through the streets of Amiens, France, with a small band of his fellow soldiers. Their swords and armor glistened in the sunshine, and men and women pressed against the walls of the narrow street to watch the thrilling display of horses and soldiers.
Suddenly, the small procession passed by a beggar, huddled by the side of the road, dressed only in flimsy rags and shivering with cold. When Martin saw the ragged man, he pulled the reins of his horse and stopped. He watched the poor man for a few moments, then looked around uncertainly. Although he had no money, he felt an urgent need to help the beggar.
Then, in a flash, Martin reached a hand to his shoulder and gripped the heavy cloak that hung from his armor. He took it off, then drew his sword. The beggar looked at him with wide, fearful eyes, but Martin did not threaten the beggar with the weapon. Instead, gripping the cloak in one hand and the sword in the other, he sliced through the heavy fabric, cutting it into two pieces. He leaned over and draped one of the pieces over the beggar's trembling shoulders. Then he returned his sword to its place, lifted the other piece of his cloak to his own shoulders, and galloped off after his companions.
Cool, huh? For sixteen centuries, people have admired Martin's act of kindness to that beggar because people recognize that kindness-even a small act of kindness is good and admirable. In fact, that incident (which occurred over sixteen centuries ago) is one of the reasons Martin was honored as a saint after his death in A.D. 397. Actually, there is really no such thing as a small act of kindness, as St. Martin found out the night after he showed kindness to the beggar. He had a dream that night, in which he saw Jesus, surrounded by the angels of heaven. In the dream, Jesus wore one half of a Roman soldier's cloak.
REFLECT: What do you think St. Martin's dream meant? Do you agree that there is really no such thing as a small act of kindness? Why or why not? Can you think of an act of kindness you can do for someone else today?
PRAY: "Kind and loving Father, thank you for teaching me that kindness is good, no matter how small or simple it may seem. Help me to try to always be kind to others."