Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest
(I Corinthians 7:25-31; Luke 6:20-26)
As Jesus says to his disciples in today’s gospel, St. Peter Claver no doubt said to African slaves, “’Blessed are you poor…’” The slaves may have wondered if he were ridiculing them. But they would have been convinced when Peter not only preached to the slaves, he helped them. He gave them food and medicine and defended them from their slave masters. They were blessed by Peter’s selfless work on their behalf.
The beatitudes in Luke’s gospel are fewer and more focused than those in Matthew’s. Jesus speaks exclusively to those who are suffering – the poor, the weeping, the hungry, and the persecuted. They are blessed because he, the Lord, has arrived to assist them. His companionship is more valuable than gold. His love will turn their tears into laughter. And he will feed them with food that gives eternal life.
In these days of racial tension, we need to look to Peter Claver for inspiration and intercession. As he descended into the holds of ships to care for sick slaves, let us go out to persons of different races, creeds, and backgrounds. As a Jesuit, Peter Claver belonged to the Company of Jesus. Surely, he will beseech his companion to help us help others if we ask him.