Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the nature of today’s readings are very clear to us. This is because first we must have realised that it talked about the calling of the chief disciples of Jesus Christ our Lord, namely the twelve men selected as the Twelve Apostles, with their names highlighted and explained to us. It seems that this selection brought great honour to the Apostles, who were chosen among many to be the chief among the disciples of the Lord, but as the rest of the readings would tell us, with great honour comes great responsibility.
We heard in the first reading, where St. Paul chastised the faithful in Corinth for their inability to work and live together in faith. He also chastised them for their unruly behaviour, disputes and infighting within the community of the believers, and their apparent inability to settle their own issues and problems, and the mention of the term arbiter, or the one who decides matters much like a judge.
And then in the Gospel again, after Jesus had chosen the Twelve Apostles to be under His care, then it was shown to us how people brought their sick ones and afflicted ones to Jesus and asked Him to heal them. People came from far-off places just to listen to the teachings of Jesus and to be healed by Him, even from areas, if we noticed, that include places where non-Jewish populations were likely those who also came to visit Jesus and listen to Him.
Then the Gospel highlighted yet another aspect of today’s readings, that is on authority, the authority to heal and to judge, as it mentioned how the people tried to touch Jesus, even just the fringe of His cloak, as through these, the people were healed by the very authority that flowed out from Jesus, the Lord and God. Thus, Jesus as Lord and Master of all is the font of power and authority, from whom all authority in this world came from, and there can be no true power or authority if the Lord had not granted them to those whom He deemed worthy.
And how is this related to the calling and the choice of the Twelve Apostles? That is because as I have mentioned before, that the calling to be an Apostle of Jesus, and in fact, even to follow the Lord as a disciple was not an easy one. Neither did it bring honour and glory, for the world had hated Jesus and thus would also hate all those who follow Him. Neither would it be easy, because the world and the forces of darkness would be arrayed against all those who walk in the path of righteousness.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is why as the chosen Apostles and disciples of the Lord, the Twelve Apostles and their successors, our Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and the priests, as well as those in the religious and priestly orders had great privileges, but also equally if not greater burdens and responsibilities. They serve the people of God, the arbiters of justice as mentioned, the bearers of the teachings and the Good News of the Lord, and the bearers of the Lord’s authority in healing.
It was not an easy task, and challenges await them along and throughout their respective ministries in the Lord. How can we help them then? It is by our contribution and the part we can play in this world, as part of the Church, giving both our time, resources and other form of contributions to help the Lord’s trusted servants. In that we do our part as the children of God and as the members of the Church.
Today we celebrate the feast of a saint, a priest and servant of God whose life is truly exemplary of those who were called by the Lord to be His instrument of love in this world. St. Peter Claver was his name, a Spanish Jesuit priest who was born in Spain during the era of Counter Reformation at about more than four centuries ago, and who joined religious life to dedicate himself to the Lord.
St. Peter Claver was particularly noted for his great piety and dedication as well as having a mind of great intellectual quality, and he dedicated this in his works, as he embarked on the mission to evangelise and preach the Good News in the New World, in what is today Latin America, then known as Spanish America, the colony of the Spanish Empire in the New World.
In those colonies and territories, there are four groups of people, namely first the administrators and Spanish lords who came from the Old World, from Spain and they were the greatest and the most influential in the society, then the colonists from Spain and the Old World, who had settled in the land and bore children there. Then below them we have the native indigenous populations of the Aztecs, Mayans, and the American Indians, who had lived in the land before the arrival of the Europeans.
And at the bottom of all in the society were the slaves, who were mostly of African origin, captured and brought to the New World to be used as slaves in various menial works that treated them as things less than human. And it was to this group in particular that St. Peter Claver dedicated himself. And St. Peter Claver was against slavery, which is an abomination among men, the practice of making others subservient to certain people, which is unacceptable to our faith.
Therefore, St. Peter Claver followed the footsteps of the Apostles and faithfully carried out his duties as the Lord had appointed him to, that is to serve the people of God humbly and courageously, especially the least among them, those who were oppressed and disadvantaged against, and lead them into a new and better life, founded on the teachings of the faith, through his ardent opposition against slavery of any kind.
St. Peter Claver also ministered to them, healing them body and soul, listening to their problems and assisting with those who were sick. And in this, his actions are exemplary for us all, not just for the priests and the ordained ministers, but also for all those in the laity. In following his examples and works, we truly can become better Christians, by embodying and practicing what we believe in our actions and deeds in life.
May Almighty God thus bless us this day, that we may grow stronger in faith, hope and love, so that we may walk in the footsteps of the saints, the disciples and the Apostles, people You have chosen from among the people and made holy so that we who witnessed their works may also be inspired to seek holiness in You. God be with us all, forever and ever. Amen.