Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Readings: 1 COR 9:16-19, 22B-27; PS 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12; LK 6:39-42
Notes: Today’s gospel portion comes from the teaching of Jesus on the matter of Judging. The gospels of Matthew and Luke closely parallel each other on this teaching about how very faulty our judgments can be. In the gospel of John this is most excellently expressed in the story of The Woman Caught in Adultery (Jn 7:53-8:11).
Poor Judgment – Slavery, Right Judgment – Dignity.
Saint Peter Claver declaring himself “the slave of the Negroes forever.”
Saint Peter Claver ministered to those who, in the eyes of the commercial society, had only property value. For Peter Claver, and for all who obey the Divine, each is accorded the dignity of humanity where this said dignity is reflective of having been made in the image and likeness of God.
The Holy Spirit’s might and power are manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver. A decision to leave one’s homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for us to imagine. Peter’s determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected, and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic. When we measure our lives against such a man’s, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus’ Spirit.
Paul is a love slave.
Paul’s devotion to the salvation of souls is summed up in the first reading:
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
Paul and Peter Claver went wherever called under any circumstance and with every ounce of strength in order to reassure the most forgotten they are not forgotten at all.
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
If we judge poorly, we would be the merchants who allow Peter Claver to work among the newly arrived slaves, not out of compassion, but out of commercial value. A dead slave has no value. Let him bring some relief for them and coin for us.
If we judge rightly, then we are like Peter Calver:
As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons, and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.
Saint Vincent de Paul Society, my fellow Vincentians, we always try to remember from whom right judgment and action comes from, it is the Lord! (John 21:7).
We pray, do we not:
Lord Jesus, deepen our Vincentian spirit of friendship during this meeting, make us responsive to the Christian calling to seek and find the forgotten, the suffering or the deprived so that we may bring them your love. Help us to be generous with our time, our possessions and ourselves in this mission of charity. Perfect in us your love and teach us to share more fully in the Eucharistic Sacrifice offered for all.
Prayer to see the Eucharist as the Source of our Apostolate
All: Father, grant that we who are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist may realize the depth of our needs, respond more spontaneously to the suffering of others, and come to love you more deeply by service to our neighbor.
Prayer that we may bear witness to Christ’s love
All: Grant us also the wisdom and strength to persevere when disappointed or distressed. May we never claim that the fruitfulness of our apostolate springs from ourselves alone. United in prayer and action, may we become a visible sign of Christ and may we give witness to His boundless love, which reaches out to all and draws them to love on another in Him.
Prayer for Fruitful Visits
All: We thank you, Lord, for the many blessings which we receive from those whom we visit. Help us to love and respect them, to understand their deeper needs, and to share their burdens and joys as true friends in Christ.
Peace be with you,