If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.
To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
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.
St. Peter Claver worked in modern Colombia, meeting the slave ships as they arrived from Africa – 1,000 slaves a month. He baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves into the Christian faith, and dedicated his mission work not only to baptizing and serving these individuals, but also to work for the abolition of the slave trade.
The First Reading uses this word – slave – but in such a different way that we have come to know. Becoming a slave to God, to preaching the Gospels, “so as to win over as many as possible” is not a life condemned to demeaning, captive work. But, rather, it is an invitation to give of one’s self in the name of God and show that the least shall be the greatest as we find so often in Scripture.
While the level of dedication and commitment St. Peter Claver might not be possible for most of us, perhaps as a reflection for today we can pray:
Jesus, help me to be more like St. Peter Claver, to fight for those most in need,
to serve others for the sake of the Gospel, and to always run with a purpose: to You.
-Mr. John Penilla ’99 is the Director of Annual Giving and coaches the JV Water Polo team at SLUH.
Take Lord receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will, all that I have and possess. Dispose of them only according to your will. Give me your love and Your grace; this is enough for me. Amen.
—St. Ignatius LoyolaPlease share the Good Word with your friends!