Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, religious
(Romans 12:5-16a; Luke 14:15-24)
God does seem to lift up the lowly as Mary proclaims in her great song The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Last week we celebrated the feast of the most obscure yet most popular of apostles, St. Jude. Certainly St. Therese, the Little Flower, seems to have eclipsed in fame her patroness, St. Theresa of Avila. Perhaps no saint is more broadly known than St. Francis who is thought of as il poverello, the little poor one. Today we celebrate a humble Dominican saint who has come to shine in more people’s heavens than any of his illustrious confreres, Martin de Porres.
Martin was the son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave Black woman. It is said that he might have become a street urchin had his mother not taught him kindness and generosity. Martin evidently did not take advantage of anyone because he thought of himself as lowlier than everyone. As St. Paul urges the Romans in the first reading today, Martin anticipated everyone in showing honor. Martin also followed Paul’s advice to not lack zeal for doing good.
In our age of increasing awareness of the environment we can again look to Martin de Porres for patronage. He was trained as a physician, which in his day meant as much an herbalist who grew his own medicines as a diagnostician or therapist. He also befriended animals. Indeed, he is often pictured with a rat at his side because he was a person who could readily thank God for all creation.