In today’s Gospel reading we hear the Beatitudes. Christ tells us, “Blessed are you who are poor…who are now hungry…who are now weeping…when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man”. Then he tells us to “Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!” That feels hard to do: leap for joy in the face of persecution or poverty or hunger or despair. I know most of the time when I’m experiencing any of that, the last thing on my mind is joy. But then, looking back on those times of sadness or persecution or any other type of hardship, I realize how much easier and how much more fruitful my thoughts and prayers would have been had I allowed myself to empty my heart of everything but God. For it is only in Him that true happiness and joy are found.
Today is also the feast day of St. Peter Claver who spent his life ministering to slaves in Cartagena. Thousands upon thousands of slaves were traded through Cartagena and St. Peter Claver, to the best of his ability, provided food, medicine, and drink to those who needed it. He chose a life of poverty, hunger, and persecution in order to serve those who had no choice but to live that way. St. Peter Claver is an example of why we should rejoice when we experience hardship: our reward will be great in Heaven!
May we always unite our own sufferings with those of Christ on the Cross and allow ourselves to open ourselves fully to His love and His mercy. Following the example of St. Peter Claver, may we rejoice in the face of poverty, hunger, despair, and persecution.
St. Peter Claver, pray for us!
Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.