23rd Friday in Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Peter Claver, Priest
1 Cor 9:16-19, 22b-27; Ps 84:3-6, 12; Lk 6:39-42 Optional: Is 58:6-11; Mt 25:31-40
The last few weeks, especially during the daily readings, we have been challenged about judging others and who is judging us. Today is no different, except, on this feast of St. Peter Claver, we are being challenged to judge ourselves on how we have been living our lives and how we treat others. It doesn’t matter which readings you read, (or heard) today, for both the daily readings and the optional ones for St. Peter Claver give us the same message: Treat others with respect, love, and kindness. And, take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Be it the poor, the indigent, the sick, or those who are in prison. Have we done something to care for them? Sure, we all probably have, can we do more? Absolutely.
St, Peter Claver took this message to heart, and felt the calling to become a missionary in the Americas. In 1610 he reached Columbia and found the treatment of the slaves there so deplorable, that he dedicated the rest of his life to taking care of them. Enduring humiliation and persecution from the local government and land barons, he went out and met the incoming ships of slaves, brought them food and water, and taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is estimated that he baptized over 300,000 slaves into Christianity. Truly, an example of what it means to bear good fruit and take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
In Matthew chapter 26, verse 40, Jesus lays it out very clearly for us when he says, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” In 1 Corinthians, St, Paul also takes it to heart when he says, “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.” Thankfully, we can pretty much say that slavery of human beings is almost extinct now. Not quite yet as there are some parts of the world where it I still happening. We need to pray for all those in the world who suffer from being made into slaves. Especially those enslaved by human trafficking. There are also many other types of slavery that is not of human bondage such as drug addiction and alcoholism to name a few.
The challenge for us today is; are we doing everything we can to help those who cannot help themselves? Have we set aside our own pride and become slaves to all as St. Paul says? While we all can’t be St. Peter Claver or St. Paul, we all can do something. It is up to us to judge ourselves and make sure that what we do for the least of these, we did it for Jesus.