3 November, Friday – Immense Love

Nov 3 – Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious

Martin (1579-1639) was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Juan, and a young freed black slave, Anna Velasquez. He grew up in poverty and spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick.

At the age of 11, he became a servant in the Holy Rosary Dominican priory in Lima, Peru. He was promoted to almoner and begged more than $2,000 a week from the rich to support the poor and sick in Lima. He was placed in charge of the Dominican’s infirmary, and was known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order” and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother in 1603.

He established an orphanage and children’s hospital for the poor children of the slums. He set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. He lived in self-imposed austerity, never eating meat, fasting continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation with a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He was a friend of St. John de Massias.

He was venerated from the day of his death. May miraculous cures, including raising the dead, have been attributed to Brother Martin, the first black saint from the Americas.

– Patron Saint Index

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Romans 9:1-5

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

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Luke 14:1-6

On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. ‘There in front of him was a man with dropsy, and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees. ‘Is it against the law’ he asked ‘to cure a man on the sabbath, or not?’ But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a sabbath day without hesitation?’ And to this they could find no answer.

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I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.
Which of us would not do anything in our power to pull our loved ones out of a difficult situation no matter what it takes? Which parent would not gladly trade their lives for that of a terminally ill child? I know I would.
In today’s first reading, we see the anguish and grief Saint Paul felt for the Jews because of their stubborn persistence, and rejection as a nation, and the many miseries which he foresaw to be coming upon them. Yet his affection was so great for his brothers and sisters that he was willing to be condemned, disgraced and be in the deepest distress and cut off from Christ. All this he would suffer, if it meant he could rescue them from destruction that was about to befall them because of their unbelief.
Recently, I came across a story which moved me so much that it stuck in my mind. This is about what a child would go through, not only for herself, but for her parent. I felt a mixture of sadness and anger at our affluent society.
This is the story of a young 17 year old girl. Her parents divorced and their lives turned upside down. Both mother and daughter were left without a home. They had no financial means to rent one and no one could offer them a place to stay. Mother and daughter had to separate – a relative took the mother in, while the daughter stayed for short periods with whomever could offer her a place to sleep for the night. At times, when there was no place she could go, she would stay up at void decks or at the beach.
At the time, she was also on scholarship at a local arts academy. Her monthly allowance could not cover her mother’s medical bills and other expenses; not to mention her school materials. With the pressing issues at hand, she found herself skipping classes. She simply did not have resources to go to school. The school threatened to expel her. The local education ministry was going to pull the scholarship and wanted her to pay back what they had invested in her. She begged the school and the ministry to give her a second chance, determined to finish school.
She worked several jobs to make ends meet. The money she made enabled her to be reunited with her mother again – she was able to rent a room for them. It did not matter that it was a modest space, what was important was – they were together. To cut short the story, she eventually graduated with help and encouragement from her teachers and friends. Today she has a roof over her head together with her mother and is an art teacher.
This is a story of determination, courage and immense love for loved ones. She could have gone the other way. She could have given up and fallen in with unsavoury company. She could have fended for herself and not cared for her mother. Despite what our society threw at her, no help, no empathy, no support but pain and humiliation – she remained steadfast, determined and committed.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day?’ The Pharisees were so caught up in rules and legalism that they failed to see God’s intention for the Sabbath — which is to do good and to heal!
What have we, as part of this Singaporean family done to help her? Are we so caught up in legalism that we have lost all sense of compassion?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may our lives be testimony of the love and affection You have for us. Increase our faith, hope and charity. Fill us with Your love, that we may never hold back our love and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters.
Thanksgiving: God of all blessings, thank You for the love of family and friends without which there would be no life. Thank you for this very day, one more day to love, one more person to love and by whom be loved. For these, and all blessings, we give you thanks, eternal, loving God, through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

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