Do Compassion and the Military Mix? - The Warrior's Journey®

Do Compassion and the Military Mix?

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40) 

Readiness for Jesus’ Second Coming is the theme of this chapter. Readiness is maintained through the vigilance of the virgins (vv. 1-13). Readiness is achieved by the faithful performance of the stewards (vv.14-30). The readiness for Christ’s coming is gained through showing compassion to the suffering and neglected (vv. 31-46).   

Yes, maintaining a compassionate heart prepares us for Christ’s return. Remember, in Matthew 24:12 Jesus warned us, as the world plunges itself toward destruction, against allowing our love to grow cold. He told us in the Sermon on the Mount that showing mercy to others will secure it for ourselves from God at His coming (Matthew 5:7), just as judging others will bring judgment upon ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5). “Judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). 

But do compassion and mercy have a place in the military? I hope so. We all need them. It’s interesting that one of the patron saints of Soldiers (particularly of the Infantry) is Saint Martin of Tours. Martin was raised in a military family. His father was a senior Cavalry commander. And Martin himself, served as a Soldier from the age of fifteen.  

But Martin was a believer in Jesus. And while other Soldiers may have been known for their brutality, Martin was known for his compassion. One story from his life tells how Martin came across a shivering beggar outside the city of Amiens. Martin removed his woolen cloak (Latin cappa), cut it in two with his sword, and wrapped the beggar with the half. That night Martin had a dream in which he saw Christ speaking to the Angels, “Martin has clothed Me in his robe.”  This vision agrees with Jesus words to the faithful in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to the least of My brothers, you did it unto Me.”  

Following the death of Martin, who had long served as the Bishop of Tours, his cloak was preserved as a sacred relic. The French kings of the Merovingian line swore oaths upon this cloak and carried it into battle for protection.The priest in charge of maintaining the cloak was designated as the cappellanu and all priests who served in the military were henceforth called cappellani. The French translation is chapelains, from which our word “chaplain” comes.  


  • Compassion is rare in the military.  Can you see how important it is to show it? 
  • Chaplains don’t carry sacred cloaks any more, but they remain a source of compassion for troubled Soldiers.  Have you ever looked to a chaplain for help? 
  • Let’s all display and share that sacred and rare commodity of compassion. 

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