Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest

(Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 6:20-26)

St. Peter Claver took to heart both readings today.  He saw no difference in black or white, slave or free.  Rather he dedicated himself as a brother to slaves arriving from Africa in Cartagena, Colombia.  He brought blessings to the poor and sorrowful as he bandaged their wounds and lifted their drooping spirits.

Born in Spain, Peter Claver entered the Society of Jesus in 1602.  After completing his studies, he came to the New World as a missionary.  Tutored of the abuse suffered by African slaves, he personally entered the fetid holes of slave ships to treat the trade’s victims.  For forty years he labored under the most miserable of conditions.  Recognized as a saint in his lifetime, he was canonized in 1888.

Peter Claver’s devotion to African slaves discomforts us.  He spent himself helping the most miserable of the poor while we debate about spending the price of a meal to provide relief for refugees. Peter did what Jesus asks of all his followers.  We should less hesitantly respond to the same call.