So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.
But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
I first heard the name “Claver” when I came to know a group of Jesuits missioned to form a community in Cincinnati, Ohio, bearing his name. Living, working and worshipping in a largely low income African-American neighborhood, they hoped to be a positive presence, immersed and listening to their neighbors to discern how they could best serve. Black lives mattered to them.
It wasn’t until much later that I heard the saint’s story. As a young Jesuit, Peter Claver was drawn to the Spanish mission in South America. He served for forty years in Cartagena, Colombia, ministering to African slaves and advocating for their health and welfare. It is said that he baptized upwards of 300,000 persons. Though Claver was widely acclaimed after his death, his life’s work made many people very uncomfortable because he lived out his conviction that—slave or free—these were his brothers and sisters in Christ. He vowed to be “slave of the slaves forever.” Black lives mattered to him.
I recently visited the BlackLivesMatter website. Around the time of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, the organization shared a litany of statistics including the impact of impoverished neighborhoods, high rates of incarceration, educational disadvantages, and increased disenfranchisement through new voter restrictions on black lives. They succeeded with me in their stated task “of making America uncomfortable about institutional racism.” I also share their conviction that “none of us are free until all of us are free.” On this memorial day of St. Peter Claver, let us ask him to help us overcome racism of any kind and, in solidarity with one another, live the truth that black lives – all lives – matter. St. Peter Claver, pray for us!
—Ms. Jenéne M. Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.
God of mercy and love, you offer all peoples the dignity of sharing in your life. By the example and prayers of Saint Peter Claver, strengthen us to overcome racial hatred and to love one another as brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
—from the Roman Missal
Additional resource: Click here for a brief video on St. Peter Claver by the Jesuit-run Apostleship of Prayer.Please share the Good Word with your friends!