Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Better Not Bitter - St. Martin de Porres

There’s a patron saint for everything and everyone, you know… African-Americans, Barbers, Hairdressers, Race relations, Social justice. In fact, for all of these, it’s the same saint – Martin of Porres.
"Father unknown" is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. "Half-breed" or "war souvenir" is the cruel name inflicted by those of "pure" blood. Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised.” (www.americancatholic.org)
Martin was the son of a Panamanian woman, probably black but possibly Native American, and a Spanish man of Lima, Peru. Having inherited his mother’s dark complexion, Martin was not acknowledged by his father until his eighth year. Talk about a “father wound!” After his sister was born, the father abandoned them, and the family grew up locked in deep poverty. But rather than become bitter about his circumstances, Martin became better. He gave his heart to his fellow poor, served as a Dominican helper and later a brother, pouring himself out tirelessly for people’s welfare, both temporal and eternal. What a shame that Martin’s father, consumed with his own image, missed the image of God stamped in the beautiful body and soul of his son Martin. Where is that father now? What choices he must regret and what opportunities are now lost! Or perhaps the prayers of the son turned the heart of the father? May we imitate Martin’s humility, for the humble shall be exalted. And may we not miss in the ordinary, small, and obscure things in life, the mark and the mystery of the Divine.
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