Thursday, November 3, 2016

Memorial of Saint Martin de Porres, religious

(Philippians 3:3-8a; Luke 15:1-10)

A story about St. Martin de Porres illustrates the vision of today’s gospel.  According to the testimony of a Dominican friar made during the investigation into Martin’s sanctity, Martin loved animals.  One late night the friar followed Martin in the community dining room.  The saint served a plate of food to his animal friends.  Soon a dog and a cat were eating at his feet.  Then Martin spotted a rat in a hole in the wall looking hungrily at the two larger animals.  Martin invited the rat to join the feast with words to the effect, “Come, little one, don’t be afraid; come and eat.”  The rat joined his natural predators and all ate happily together.

Jesus has come to the world to invite everyone to his Father’s table.  He does not want anyone excluded.  When the Pharisees and scribes grumble that Jesus associates with sinners, Jesus tells three parables about God’s love for them.  Two of these parables form today’s gospel reading.  The lost sheep is the sinner for whom the shepherd goes far out of his way to find.  The party hosted by the woman upon finding a lost coin indicates the banquet which God is preparing for all the different peoples inhabiting the earth.

Along with being charmed by Jesus’ parables and pious stories of the saints, we must take to heart Jesus’ message.  He calls us to reform our lives and then to the table prepared by his Father.  Reform means letting go of self-centeredness to assist others, especially those most in need.