Saturday, September 10, 2011

Laid the Foundation on Rock

September 10, 2011

Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16

"Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord," but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built. Luke 6:46-48


Spring and Fall: to a Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for. (b
y Gerard Manley Hopkins)


This morning Beth and I are heading to the funeral for a mountain of a man. Jeffrey S. Martin was a Belmont Abbey College Crusader classmate and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity brother back in the 1970s -- two titles that he can never shake. Over the years, he proudly bore many other honors as a devoted husband, father, son, brother and a Federal agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Newspapers reduce lives to a few brief sentences:

Federal Agent

Died unexpectedly Thursday, September 1, 2011. Jeffrey S. Martin of Lorton, VA. Loving husband of Mary Aring-Martin; devoted father of Patrick A. Martin; son of George E. Martin, Sr. and the late Virginia Rose Martin; brother of George E. Martin, II, Sherry Smith and Gregery S. Martin. Funeral Mass will be offered at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, 6222 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA on Saturday September 10 at 10:30 a.m. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to The Roger L. Von Amelunxen Foundation at

But in our minds, hearts and souls, we will always remember so much more than can be expressed in these short death notices.

Jeff's "life notice" was on display every day we met and for every person he met. Not only was he a rock solid human being, his values were laid on the foundation of the rock of ages. He was a regular fixture at the Catholic Campus Ministry functions lead by ever jovial Fr. Oscar.

Jeff treated everyone on campus with a gentleness and compassion which betrayed his strapping 6 foot-plus frame. His broad shoulders were often used literally and figuratively to carry his brothers and sisters in their time of distress or when we faced heavy tasks. He would bolster the blood donor suffering temporary weakness at a blood mobile and help up his opponent on the rugby field whom he just leveled on the way to score. Jeff also was a model of the forgiveness exemplified in the letter from Timothy. He mercifully treated everyone no matter what our personal sins of commission and omission.

As a leader in our fraternity, Jeff routinely got a bunch of bleary-eyed college men and women up early on Saturday mornings to clean parks, renovate homes of the elderly, raise money for "Jerry's Kids" and the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, organize the aforementioned blood drives and mentor young men through Big Brothers or the local Boy Scout council. Certainly Jesus displayed all his patience for servants like Jeff who truly picked up his cross every day to follow Him. Today, we know that he shares the glory of eternal union with his brother Jesus.


Today, on this eve of the September 11th attacks, his loving family and friends old and new will be remembering this gentle giant of a public servant and the indelible impression he left on all those whom he met along the way at Belmont Abbey College and beyond. Sorrows springs are the same.

Who has made such a mark on your life? Before you lose the opportunity to thank them for their gifts, take time today to recognize them for what they have done in their lifetime for you.