He recognized and loved them as God’s children, and as his own brothers and sisters
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Peter Claver (September 9, 2020): 1 COR 7:25-31; PS 45:11-12,14-15,16-17; LK 6:20-26
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus tell His disciples about the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Today we venerate St. Peter Claver, patron of interracial justice. He was born in Spain in 1581. He joined the Society of Jesus and volunteered to work in the Spanish colonies where he went even before he was ordained. In 1615, he went to Cartagena, now in Colombia, the largest slave-trading port of South America. He spent the next four decades serving the spiritual and material needs of the thousands of African men and women who arrived there every year. Peter Claver met the ships and went down into the holds to minister to those had managed to survive the atrocious conditions only to be sold as slaves. He brought them food, drink, and medicine, and, with the help of interpreters, offered them words of compassion, appreciation for their human dignity, and the loving message of Christ. He also constantly traveled the land visiting plantations and preaching in town squares to sailors, traders, and slave owners. In time, he became a moral force to improve in some measure the intolerable conditions the slaves were forced to endure. Ill and unable to care for himself, Peter Claver was virtually abandoned for the four last years of his life. He died in 1654. When he was canonized in 1888, Pope Leo XIII said, “No life, except the life of Christ, has moved me so deeply as that of Peter Claver.”
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus tell His disciples about the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.… Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven” (Luke 6:20-21, 23). St. Peter Claver put those words into action throughout his long service to the African people sold into slavery. He offered them spiritual consolation and the example of someone who recognized and loved them as God’s children, and as his own brothers and sisters.