Homilette for Monday, November 3, 2008

Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, religious

(Philippians 2:1-4)

“Blessed are the meek,” Jesus’ third beatitude on the mount tells us, “for they shall inherit the earth.” The claim sounds so preposterous that one commentator declares that the land Jesus has in mind is the “new earth,” the kingdom of heaven. No doubt, the commentator is correct. The meek gain God’s kingdom, but at times it seems that they also capture high regard on this earth, corrupted as it is.

Certainly St. Martin de Porres exemplifies a person of humility ascending to renown. He belonged to the Dominican Order which has achieved recognition for scholarship. Yet St. Martin did not leave behind any notable writings but only a legacy of charity. He thought of himself as a poor sinner who needed to perform constant acts of penance. As well as any saint in history, perhaps, Martin lived what St. Paul writes about in today’s first reading: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves...” Interestingly, St. Martin has become the most popular Dominican saint, surpassing in notoriety his holy patron, Dominic Guzman, and his illustrious confrere, Thomas Aquinas.

Most of us cannot hope to duplicate Martin de Porres’ humility, but this doesn’t mean that we should not try to imitate it. We must never fool ourselves with the rationalization that humility, as the proper evaluation of one’s own worth, makes one recognize himself or herself as superior to the common lot. Such fatuous logic will only lead one down a road of perdition. Our aim should not be subservience to others but rather, in line with St. Martin, Christ’s sense of submission to God. As Paul will go on to write, Christ became obedient to God to the extent of suffering death on a cross.