Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest
(I Corinthians 9:16-19.22b-27; Luke 6:39-42)
Last Sunday Pope Francis canonized St. Teresa of Kolkata. There are millions living today who could testify to her saintliness. The stories of her touching the untouchables remind us of Jesus fearlessly treating lepers. Today the Church remembers another saint who worked among the world’s most marginalized people. St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest, looked after the physical as well as the spiritual needs of Africans brought to the New World as slaves. A native of Spain, Peter descended to the stench-ridden holds of slave ships where he treated men and women dying of infectious diseases. Peter had developed the discipline that St. Paul writes of in today’s first reading.
Paul has written this first letter to the Corinthians to correct a number of abuses in the Christian community that he founded. He was distraught by reports of the scandals of which he had heard especially sexual abuses. Now he exhorts the Corinthians to take their faith as seriously as athletes take a competitive event. He wants them to develop discipline so that they control carnal desire and be rewarded the prize of eternal life.
We develop discipline by practicing the four moral virtues. Justice will assure that we give ourselves the attention that is due. Temperance will keep us from overindulging our appetites and also over-exuberant zeal. Fortitude will keep us on track when we feel that the goal is not worth the effort. Last but not least, prudence will direct us every day as to what must be done to reach our goal.