Memorial of St. Martin DePorres.
“Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor.”
Today’s readings provide a spiritual insight to the character and the person of one my favorite saints! As a young child his was the only statue in the church that reflected skin like mine. I learned early on about the life of St. Martin DePorres. I wanted to know all about him. Who was this Black saint that gained a place of prominence within the religious order of the Dominican Friars-Order of Preachers?
His care and commitment to the sick and the poor and the disenfranchised – was foundational to his ministry. Martin’s care for the downtrodden made him the laughingstock to others in his religious order. Yet Martin paid no heed to how he was chastised and bullied by others.
Martin knew what it was like to be maligned. His mixed-race status as a son of an enslaved African Panamanian and a Spanish Conquistador, was a source of much ridicule by the people in his Peruvian neighborhood. He knew firsthand the injustice, racial bigotry, and intolerance for his Black skin. Martin was in love with the Lord. His only desire was holiness. He prayed unceasingly. One of Martin’s many charisms was that of humility. Yet his humility was not one of self-effacing meekness. When confronted by injustice vs following the regimented rules of his religious order- he always stood on the side of addressing the need of the vulnerable. I suppose my ministry of healing and social justice advocacy has at its root the blessings and the intercessions of St. Martin for the prayers- that I prayed from my childhood even to this very day- for a world that would root itself in the need for justice, tolerance, and the end to racism and poverty and sickness.
For such a time as this, we need the intercessions of the Patron Saint of Social Justice. He lived during the time of a major epidemic, racial discord, and poverty. Martin was known for his miraculous healings and supernatural gifts. Let us lift his name in prayer today as we pray for a renewal in our land, healing from racial discord, massive deaths from a pandemic, and the strife of poverty and unemployment. Yes, St. Martin was even a benefactor to the homeless and the hungry. On this day, that our land needs supernatural blessings, I ask for the intercessions and protection over our land this election day. Let love and justice be the order of the day!
Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord. Mt 11:28
Author: Dr. Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley, OPA (Lay Associate of the Order of Preachers)