Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Who Are Poor

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Minute Meditations

Avoiding Sin
Our holiness is not marked by how little we are tempted but by our actions when we are. Temptation is the first step to sin, but it is not sin itself. Though God allows temptation, it is not He who tempts us. We are tempted by the world around us, by our flesh, and by the devil.
— from A 40-Day Spiritual Workout for Catholics

St. Peter Claver

A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland forever in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He sailed into Cartagena (now in Colombia), a rich port city washed by the Caribbean. He was ordained there in 1615.

By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. Although the practice of slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III and later labeled "supreme villainy" by Pius IX, it continued to flourish.

Peter Claver's predecessor, Jesuit Father Alfonso de Sandoval, had devoted himself to the service of the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work, declaring himself "the slave of the Negroes forever."

As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God's saving love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

His apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.

After four years of sickness which forced the saint to remain inactive and largely neglected, he died on September 8, 1654. The city magistrates, who had previously frowned at his solicitude for the black outcasts, ordered that he should be buried at public expense and with great pomp.

He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.


The Holy Spirit's might and power are manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver. A decision to leave one's homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for us to imagine. Peter's determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic. When we measure our lives against such a man's, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus' Spirit.


Peter Claver understood that concrete service like the distributing of medicine, food or brandy to his black brothers and sisters could be as effective a communication of the word of God as mere verbal preaching. As Peter Claver often said, "We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips."

Patron Saint of:



Dear Lord as I come to you today
Fill my heart and my whole being
with the wonder of Your presence


Thank you for the gift of freedom, Lord.
Grant that I may always choose to follow You.
Keep me ever mindful of your ways.
Of your love and concern for all people.


I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord.
I will take refuge in His loving heart.
He is my strength in times of weakness.
He is my comforter in times of sorrow.

The Word of God


Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest

Reading 1 Col 3:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.
But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

Responsorial Psalm PS 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13ab

R. (9) The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.

Alleluia Lk 6:23ab

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and leap for joy!
Your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 6:20-26

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:

"Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way."


Some thoughts on today's scripture

  • The kingdom of God is mysterious, because it is God's project working out silently in human history. But from this text we know some of those who will be in it. The poor and the hungry will be there. So will those who weep, and also the dominated, the persecuted, the outcasts of the earth. What an extraordinary group! Those who are at the bottom of the human pyramid will be rejoicing and leaping for joy at God's goodness to them.
  • When my heart is breaking because of the misery of so many today, I must not think that God has forgotten them. Instead I thank God that for them the best is yet to come, and I ask to be included among them, at least as someone who cares about them.


Remembering that I am still in God's presence,
I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me,
and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart,
speaking as one friend to another.


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Colossians 3:1-11

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Saint Peter Claver, Priest (Memorial)

If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above... . Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. (Colossians 3:1, 2)

The chief executive officer of a company is the top executive responsible for a company's overall operations and performance. His or her job is to keep the organization focused on the goal of that company. A good CEO understands how risky it is for the company to get sidetracked from its core mission.

Did you know that we can be CEOs as well? We can follow our own strategy of staying focused on our core mission—to love the Lord and serve his people. By capturing, examining, and making obedient our thoughts, we can keep ourselves from getting derailed by distractions and lesser concerns that lead us away from the Lord and the life he has given us.

The first step is to capture our thoughts. Try thinking of nothing for just a few minutes, and you'll see that you are always thinking! Thoughts constantly roll in and out of our minds—good, bad, and indifferent. But you can get in the habit of noticing the errant thoughts that steer you off course: doubts about God, habits of fearful thinking, appetites, selfish ambition, accusations against other people, and condemnation against ourselves.

When you catch one of these stray thoughts, your next job is to examine it. Is it true? Does it mesh with what you know about God or his calling for you? Does it make you anxious or bring you peace?

Finally, you can bring this thought into obedience to Christ. If it doesn't belong in your mind, send it away. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you get free of its influence. Try to focus your mind on what you know to be true, and watch this unhelpful thought wither away and die.

According to the Scriptures, the kingdom of God is a place where there will be no sorrow or suffering. This is your goal. This is the "above" that St. Paul urges us to focus our attention on. If you practice being the CEO of your thoughts today, you'll get one step closer to your goal!

"Lord, my eyes are on you. Help me not to get steered off course today. Lift me up to where you are!"


Psalm 145:2-3, 10-13
Luke 6:20-26





A new face arrived in the RCIA class, and as we spoke all together, I said "we need to be constantly seeking the Lord, to fill ourselves with Him".  Take this into consideration while considering what we are filling ourselves with daily, mostly desires of the flesh, and this includes the mind and it's feelings.  I told them in class "you are either feeding the good or the bad in your life".  Which one are you paying more attention to?   St. Paul says today "Stop lying to one another".  This is a serious sin.  What if I'm lying to God?   What if my "sorry" doesn't mean anything?  What if my "thank you" doesn't mean a thing either?  Lies then are killing the soul.  Let's consider the truth, and let's consider...the poor.
"The Lord is compassionate toward all His works".  Today's saint was compassionate with Jesus.  He found Jesus among the broken, the slaves.  Nowadays, the homosexual liberalists say the bible is wrong on homosexuality making gays slaves and slavery is wrong.  This is a lie from hell.  All the gays that I know are treated with love and respect...if only they'd follow the command of the Lord to do so as well.  Today's saint treated the real slaves with real love.  These people were treated like animals, with chains and whips and screamings and buying and selling like property and investments.  Who are we using nowadays for our own good?  When you gossip, you're using others and trampling over them.  When you yell at one another, you're treating each other like animals.  When you can't forgive someone, you're choking the life out of their soul, and what's worse?  Your soul is on the line.  For we can not lie when we pray the Lord's words "forgive us AS WE forgive". Can we live a lie?  How long can we stand the lies in our lives?  How long until we let ourselves be blessed?
"Blessed are you who are poor" says our Lord.  "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Nowadays, those that are standing up for the Lord are called "haters".  The world points the finger, and because you don't love their "ways" you are hating them.  We hate the sin, yes, not the sinners.  To the Lord there is no slave or free, no Jew or gentile.  I'm noticing that there is all sorts of people in the Church.  Some really negative (oxymoron Christians), some really positive Christians (real ones) and some so called "realistic" ones who are in between.  Those in betweeners are those that try, and often not hard enough.  So who are the poor again?  It's the story of Lazarus.  Let's take a cue from this story.  Lazarus was poor, sitting at the rich man's gate.  Lazarus was hungry.  Lazarus was...listen now....Lazarus was ignored, and forgotten.  Lazarus was taken to Heaven.  The rich man...sent to suffer hell.  Only then did the rich pay attention to the poor and the rich wanted the poor ones back on earth to know the truth.  I'm asking you right now, "are you ignoring the poor in your life?"  On Labor day, we took the kids to town and on the way back home, I saw this older couple, hitchhikers "Oh look" I said, "there they are again, looking for a ride again".  I said to my wife "when we get home I'll drop ya'll off and i'll go give the hitchhikers a ride".  We get home, I sit on the couch to rest a bit and I fall asleep.  I wake up, go on about my labor day, cookout and so forth...and I forget the poor.  By then, it was too late.   They say that the way to hell is paved with "good intentions".  We intend to be good people, and we do otherwise.  Last night we talked about traffic control for CCD time in a parish meeting.  A volunteer said he was verbally assaulted and cussed at for doing his job of not letting cars through at the wrong time.  I asked surprised "this happened outside of church?"  Yes, he said.  That's why I say, we have all sorts of people at church.  Mean ones, nice ones, cool ones, ugly ones, faithful, and unfaithful.  The question is, in all this mix...who are the poor?  Most often they are the ignored.  We agreed not to bring back this mean choirmaster because of how ill he treats others and especially our priest.  My question again...who are the poor in spirit?  In RCIA last night the newby said they'd been treated and looked down upon in other churches they've been to.  Who are the poor among us?  Most people would pass some of the new converts as whackos, outcasts of society.  Suddenly, the poor are being revealed?  Can you see who they are?  Is it the financially poor, or the ones who have nothing to eat?  I told the class "you have to feed your soul".  We feed it by being with one another in Jesus' name.  We feed it with the body of Christ in Holy Mass to solidify ourselves to not be so porous and let evils in all the time.
The poor in spirit are largely ignored.  And so they wind up in jails or in cliques.  Just where "they belong"...castaways.  Who left them out there?  The ones who sat on their couches and did nothing.
The time has come in your life, as St. Paul said, to put away all thing sevil and put on Christ.  With Christ and His eyes, you will notice the poor among you in your life.  Sometimes, I am the poor one.
Sometimes, I need Jesus...sometimes...all the time.
So what we have in the Church is a family.  The Father does not want you to continue ignoring your family.  He wants us to take care of one another and stop ignoring each other.  Yes, Lazarus is out there...and it just so happened that it was Jesus' best friend in the world.

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