Today is the feast of the Spanish Jesuit priest, Peter Claver, patron of the missions to African peoples and defender of human rights: the Apostle of Cartagena.  His great faith did charitable justice. For him black lives did not just matter: they were essential to the building of the Kingdom. For Peter, people of color were his brothers and sisters. He defended their civil rights and their Christian rights.

Like St. Paul in today’s Corinthians reading, who surrendered his liberty to be a slave to the gospel, Peter Claver also sacrificed his freedom by becoming a slave to slaves. This he did in the service of justice, to spread the Good News that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all people. In a world that so highly values liberty, are we as Christians willing to give up even our freedom to insure liberty and justice and salvation for all?

—Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, write from Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high high school in Los Angeles CA.