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Conformed to Christ
Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
Opening Prayer: Holy Spirit, send me your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding so that I might become like you. Help me imitate you in my thoughts, words, and actions. Open the meaning of these words to me and press them deeply into my heart.
- Imitate the Teacher: Christ calls us, his disciples, to become “fully trained” in order to be conformed to him. We become like the teacher par excellence, Jesus, by imitating him (Ephesians 5:1). To apply this to our everyday lives, we can practice pausing in prayer in the various circumstances we experience, asking Jesus how he would approach the situations at hand and then imitating him. This can especially be helpful in difficult situations or trials, as Jesus “was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3). During trials, we can pray for faith and wisdom to guide us so we see the meaning in our suffering and persevere (James 1:2-7). By imitating Jesus in and enduring our sufferings, we will grow “to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
- Pruned for Maturity: Scripture reading is essential to understanding how to imitate Christ. St. Jerome said, “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” How can we understand what Jesus taught and how he lived, let alone imitate him, without being intimately familiar with the firsthand accounts of his earthly life in the Gospels and apostolic Christian teaching of the early Church? Not only does reading Scripture give us knowledge of Christ, it changes us as we read it: “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It prunes away what is sinful and unfruitful in us (John 15:3). Pruning with the word is one way that we can “remove the splinter” from our own eyes before helping others to do so. Being pruned from sinful patterns is necessary for becoming “mature and complete” in Christ (James 1:4).
- St. Peter Claver: St. Peter Claver is an excellent example of a person who imitated Christ in a heroic way. Like Jesus, his heart was moved to take care of the weak and the poor. This Spanish priest ministered to slaves in the new world. He was an eyewitness to the colonial slavery culture, and worked to bring what justice he could to the men, women, and children he ministered to. St. Peter Claver was unafraid to encounter the squalid conditions these people were made to endure. He was called “the slave of the slaves” for his devotion to their physical and spiritual wellness. He wrote, “I must dedicate myself to the service of God until death, on the understanding that I am like a slave, wholly occupied in the service of his master and in the endeavor to please and content him in all and in every way with his whole soul, body, and mind.” In this way, he fulfilled God’s greatest commandment: “to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:33). Do we see God in the poor and suffering as St. Peter Claver did? What have we done to alleviate the suffering of others recently?
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, thank you for the examples of the saints! They inspire me to imitate their example of active faith and so imitate you. I am sorry for when I have failed to care for the poor and needy. I am reminded that whatever I do for the least of my brothers I do for you as well (Matthew 25:40). Prune me with your holy word in Scripture, and then give me the virtues I need to imitate you and so be conformed to you (Romans 8:29).
Resolution: Lord today by your grace, I will imitate St. Peter Claver and seek a way to serve the poor or suffering in my community.
For Further Reflection: Read this in-depth article, “St. Peter Claver: Slave of the Slaves Forever.”
Carey Boyzuck, MTS, is a wife, mother, freelance writer, pastoral assistant, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.