And Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it? How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbor’s eye.
Today we remember one of the truly great modern saints, Peter Claver. And the first reading was especially selected for today because it contains these words of the apostle Paul: “I have become everybody’s slave,” a statement which summarizes perfectly Peter Claver’s life.
Born in Spain in 1580, Peter volunteered to go as a missionary to Colombia in South America. He was ordained a Jesuit priest there in Carthagena in 1616 and worked in that city’s port for the next 38 years (until his death in 1654) among the black slaves. They came from Africa, where they were kidnapped by white traders and brought to South America. Every time a slave ship landed at Carthagena, Peter would enter the infested fold to take care of the dead, dying and sick. He instructed and baptized the slaves, helped them on the plantations, and brought 300,000 of them to Christ. He did this by using methods far in advance of the time: working through native interpreters, the tribal structures, and with visual aids.
This great saint liked to call himself “the slave of the negroes forever.” In 1896 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him universal patron of the mission to the negroes.
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