Lent Madness: John the Baptist vs. Martin of Tours

This testosterone-laden match-up pits John the Baptist against Martin of Tours. A man of the wilderness vs. a man of the sword. In previous action, Theresa of Avila trounced Bartholomew 82% to 17%. See the full bracket here: Lent Madness 2010

John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, is mentioned in all four gospels, and is known as the Forerunner of the Messiah. In Luke’s gospel we learn that John was related to Jesus — his mother Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin. Indeed when Mary greets Elizabeth we hear that her unborn child “leaped for joy in her womb.” An ascetic, John was known for wearing camel skin, a leather belt, and subsisting on locusts and wild honey.

He is best-known for his ministry at the River Jordan where he baptized many including Jesus. Herod Antipas had John arrested for condemning his marriage to Herodius, the former wife of his half-brother. He was famously beheaded in 36 AD with Herod’s daughter Salome calling for his head on a silver platter.

A Collect for John the Baptist: Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Martin of Tours (316-397) was born the son of an officer in the Roman Army. Against the wishes of his parents, Martin became a catechumen at the age of ten.  when he was fifteen he joined the cavalry as a junior officer as was required for the sons of high-ranking military officials.

While Martin was still a soldier, he encountered a beggar at the city gates at Amiens.  He impulsively cut his cloak in half and gave half of it to clothe the beggar. That night he had a dream in which Jesus said to his angels, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me.” This solidified Martin’s faith and he was baptized at age 18. Upon leaving the military, Martin became a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers and eventually entered a monastery. In 371 he was elected to serve as bishop in Tours, France.

A Collect for Martin of Tours: Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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