I am behind on my blog posts as I have some pressing agenda items on my list but I am always disappointed when I do not find the time to write. I did manage to make it to mass on Friday for the Feast Day of St. Peter Claver and was heartened by the homily that the pastor gave. I found myself thinking about it during the course of a busy day. St. Peter Claver was a Jesuit, born near Barcelona. Entering the Society of Jesus in 1601, he had a desire to do missionary work. He was sent to Cartegena in South America where he ended up assisting the slaves as they arrived. This became his mission for four decades–he provided Africans with food, water and medical supplies. He was both doctor and teacher to the 10,000 slaves who arrived in Categena annually to be sold in South America. He advocated for their rights and –treated all of them–whatever their religious beliefs–Catholics, Protestants or Muslims–with dignity. He is the patron saint of, among other things, race relations. He baptized 300,000 slaves by 1651 so that their owners would treat them more humanely.
The First Reading from 1 Corinthians 9 1 Corinthians 9 reminds us that there is a prize to be won and that we must run the race in order to receive the imperishable wreath. We are not to run aimlessly, but we must keep our goal in mind. St. Claver knew his goal. Do we? Slavery still exists today. As I listened to the pastor preach, my mind wandered to yet another missing Aboriginal woman in my city. I wondered if she is part of the new slave trend–kidnapping young women and prostituting them out. My heart also returned to the Slave Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. The Slave Lodge tour was one of the most profound moments on that trip, gut-wrenching and haunting. My pastor made reference to how human beings could treat each other in such a way, but the reality is that still today we do not recognize the other’s humanness–we see them as chattel, non humans, and disposable. We still have much to learn about running this race to receive an imperishable wreath.
One day, we will all fly freely of the chains that enslave us. Until then, St. Peter Claver, pray for us that we may have a servant’s heart and break whatever bonds of injustice that we encounter.
How do you see slavery still in action today?
Is there a way that you can break the bonds of injustice that you see, taking St. Peter Claver as an example?
St. Peter Claver, you ran the race and won the imperishable wreath. Help us to see what is most needed in our world today and then to act on righting the wrong we notice. Give us courage and strength to be your hands and feet in the world, Jesus. Amen.