September 9, 2016

Peter Claver

September 9, 2016:  St. Peter Claver, Priest

  • 'Wood block' tie pin:  Plank/beam/log... (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin: my eye (vs. speck/splinter in my brother's) (gospel)
  • 'Runner' tie pin:  All the runners run, but only one wins (1st reading)
  • NEW 'Car' tie pin, 'train' tie bar:  "I 'drive' my body and train it" (1st reading)
  • 'Birds' tie:  Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest (psalm)
  • 'Heart' pin:  My heart cries out for God; their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage (psalm)
  • 'Sun,' 'shield' pins:  The Lord is a sun and a shield (psalm)
  • White and green shirt:  White for St. Peter Claver, green for Ordinary Time season

Pope Francis homily
Some Christians live their lives as functionaries boasting of what they do; it reduces the Gospel to a function or source of pride.  Evangelize; don't coast along, reduce the Gospel to rote work, or proselytize.  A Christian has an obligation to carry the name of Jesus.  To evangelize, become all things to all people.  Go and share in others' lives:  accompany them on their journey, that they might grow in faith.
Put yourself in the other’s condition, to be on the way with them.  Begin to do, they'll ask you, then tell him.  To evangelize is to testify to your faith through your life.  Awaken curiosity, so people ask, then answer, "Because I believe in and preach Christ with the Word and with my life."  We evangelize freely because we've freely received the Gospel.
Peter Claver went to preach the Gospel.  The Lord asked him to be close to the ‘discarded’:  slaves to be sold.  He didn't reduce evangelism to a rote task or proselytizing; he proclaimed Christ with his actions, speaking to the slaves, living with and like them; and there are many like him in the Church, who annihilate themselves to proclaim Christ.  You have an obligation to evangelize, to live the faith, to talk about it with meekness, love, and no desire to win an argument but to give away what God gave me.
  • 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22b-27  Woe to me if I don't preach the Gospel!  I've made myself a slave to win people over.  I've become all things to all, to save at least some.  All runners race, but only one wins.  Run to win.  Athletes exercise discipline to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
  • Ps 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12  "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!"  I yearn for your courts.  I cry out for God.  Blessed they who dwell in your house!  Blessed those whose strength you are!  You bestow grace and glory and withhold no good thing from those who walk in sincerity.
  • Lk 6:39-42  “Can the blind guide the blind?  Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye but not the beam in yours?  How can you tell him, ‘Let me remove that splinter’ when you don't notice your beam?  Hypocrite!  Remove the beam first; then you'll see clearly to remove the splinter.”
  • Creighton:  I can be quick to judge others but blind to my own faults.  For me the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an uplifting experience that helps me be honest about my sins and shortcomings, to get the plank out of my eye, at least for awhile....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Speck-tacular":  We don't want people we love to destroy themselves, so we're concerned about their sins, but we first have to let God deal with our own sin and blindness.  Blind eye surgeons do much more harm than good.  I need to repent and confess my sins first; then I realize the horror of sin, and our Father's mercy and compassion of our heavenly Father.  May I "walk the plank" of repentance.
    St. Peter Claver, S.J.
  • Passionist:  "When is a work of art finished?"  Paul's letters reveal his ‘unfinished thoughts,’ new and never exhausted.  Preaching requires strength to live what's preached.  Our work at best is unfinished.  We strive to capture the vision we have, to show Christ at work among us.  Christ’s work isn't finished either!  Paul wanted his hearers to know about Jesus.  Luke says guides must see, teachers communicate to see their students grow, and our own eyes need tending before we can help others see.  We ask God to guide and teach us and make our vision clear.
    Peter Claver labored 40 years at the port where slaves from Africa were sold and forced into labor.  He became one with the slaves in many ways:  he met them upon their arrival, shared their conditions, cared for them while they were waiting to be sold, visited later to tend their faith, avoiding the lodgings of the wealthy to share the slaves' quarters.  His work often met with criticism, but after four years of illness, unable to minister, and forgotten, he was accorded a state funeral.  His moral witness wasn't avidly embraced, but it was heard and acknowledged.
    •  "Don't you see the log in your own eye?"  Jesus' parables about poor vision recall "Without vision, people perish!"  An untreated bad eye and a blind guide can cause trouble, misery, and disaster.  How can we help others overcome their faults if we're blinded by our own?  We need a physician who can help us overcome our blind spots, sins, and weaknesses.  Luke, trained as a physician, portrays Jesus as the good physician and shepherd who seeks out those who desire healing.  Like a gentle, skillful doctor, Jesus exposes our sin, evil, and oppression so we can be freed and made whole.  First, we need to submit to the physician.  The Lord wants to heal and restore us, not just for our own sake; he also wants us to be his instruments of healing others.  The Rabbis taught: "God will favorably judge those who judge others favorably."  How easy it is to misjudge and find fault!  A judgmental spirit crushes, oppresses, and repels.  Think the best of others to grow in love.  The Lord, who sees all including imperfections I don't see in myself, patiently draws me to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of my sin.  Lord, flood my heart with mercy so I only have room for charity, forbearance, and kindness.
      • Peter Claver, Jesuit priest, "slave of the Negroes forever," attending to their spiritual and material needs.  He brought food to the ships, instructed and baptized slaves, followed their progress, and tried to defend them. He organized catechists and worked in hospitals and prisons.  Many inside and outside the Church opposed him.  See Cartagenainfo.netCatholic Encyclopedia.

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