Memorial of St. Peter Claver (priest)
(I Timothy 1:1-2.12-14; Luke 6:39-42)
Stephen Spielberg’s movie “Amistad” tells part of the story of the horror of the slave trade. It depicts how Black Africans were crammed on ships like cattle where they lost their status as human beings in the eyes of most of the world. However, people like the heroes of “Amistad” and St. Peter Claver, whose feast is celebrated today, saw through human pretensions and gave the Africans the care they deserve.
Like the slaves who received the ministrations of Peter Claver probably felt, the Letter to Timothy, begun in the first reading today, expresses how St. Paul revels in divine mercy. The apostle can give thanks to God for calling him out of an atmosphere of hatred and reproach in his pursuit of Christians into one of gentleness and love as Christ’s follower. It pains Paul to think of his former days, but that memory also spurs him to suffer greater trials than most can imagine to bring the comfort of Christ to others.
All of us have been similarly saved by Jesus even though many do not recognize his salvation. Christianity has established a civilization of justice and love -- not perfectly but perceptibly. The human gains of his followers aside, Jesus has, most of all, won for us the promise of eternal life. Now we know that even if we are victimized by others, we can still look forward to peace and joy.