Loving the Least: St. Peter Claver

Saint Peter Claver (1580-1654) is one of those humbling saints who does in an extraordinary way what all Christians should be doing: find the most despised, neglected, abused population of his day and give them all the love he can, according to the duties of his state in life. 

A Jesuit priest, St. Peter Claver poured himself out in service to the slaves being imported to the New World through the port of Cartagena in present-day Colombia, offering food and what comfort he could, instructing the slaves in the faith and baptizing an estimated 300,000 people by the end of his life. He gave them both the goods of the world and of the kingdom of God, seeking to alleviate their miserable circumstances, treating them as brethren worthy of both his love and the love of God. He truly plunged in where the need was greatest, offering a model for all who seek to console the Heart of Jesus by accepting God's mercy and mediating that mercy to their fellow human beings. 

And we all should do the same. Are there hungry people in your neighborhood? Help with the local food pantry, soup kitchen, or simply invite them over for a meal. Are there lonely people? Befriend them, or invite them to join your clubs or other organizations. Are there people in any sort of need? Meet their needs, or direct them to the appropriate places to find help. Those who live close to us are given to us in a particular way to be cared for and loved, from our children and spouses to our parents and other relatives, from our neighbors on our street to the homeless on the streets of our towns and cities.

Beacons of love and hope
We are called to be like St. Peter Claver, whose feast we celebrate on Sept. 9. We must not just speak of how evil our times are, but become beacons of love and hope, spreading the faith and meeting the material needs of those around us. Console the Heart of Jesus: console the hearts of your neighbors. On the last day, the Lord will judge us by our love in action, or by our lack of love.

Let us ask St. Peter Claver to pray for us that we may become the presence of the love of Christ in the world for those most in need of God's mercy. Let us ask his intercession for the forgotten, the abused, and the neglected of the world, that the dignity of every person be recognized and respected, and that we truly build the civilization of love called for by the Holy Fathers.

Saint Peter Claver, pray for us!


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