Four years ago, I had an opportunity to officiate at a wedding in Cartagena, Columbia. A beautiful statue of a great saint stands just outside the Church near the beach. It is there that I learned about this wonderful Saint of the day, Peter Claver. As a Jesuit priest, he went to the missions in Cartegena, Columbia which was then the center of the slave trade.
Peter did not see a way for him to end the slave trade, but he was determined to do what he could for the slaves, and in fact, declared himself a slave as a show of equality of worth of all people.
Every month when he heard the signal announcing the arrival of the slave ship, he went out to meet them on the pilot’s boat, carrying food, water, and medicine. Moving from one to the other, he used the supplies he had brought to show kindness and compassion.
If not for him, many of these most abused, rejected, and disregarded of all people would have died in the sea of sickness and starvation.
In today’s first reading St. Paul invites us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.
He tells us love binds everything together in harmony.
In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to love even our enemies by giving us the Golden Rule "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
Friends are we aware of the potential we have to love? We learn from Saint Peter Claver, that even in situations that we cannot change, we can love.
Remember, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to "grant [him] the serenity to accept the things [he could not] change; The courage to change the things [he] [could]; And the wisdom to know the difference." Are we using our potential to love even our enemies in situations that we don’t see a way to change?
A sibling or a close friend we can’t get away from may irritate us regularly. Are we using our potential to love that person?
Members of our extended families may refuse to give up grudges they have held for years. Are we using our potential to love them?
Leaders in our churches and communities and nation make hurtful decisions that can’t be easily reversed. Are we using our potential to love them?
St. Peter Clavier challenges us to exercise this kind of love as he did with the slaves.
About Father Pinto Paul, C.S.C.
Father Pinto Paul C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1999, worked with tribal populations in northeast India as a missionary for ten years. In 2010 he came to the US for further studies. While working as a campus minister at Stonehill College, he assisted pastors in local parishes, led seminars and workshops for teachers and students in the US and earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Lesley University, Cambridge. He is currently working as the International Director of the Boston-based Holy Cross Family Ministries with missions in 17 countries.