December 10, 2021

Guest Column / Jesus Figueroa

St. Martin de Porres and his witness of faith

Jesus FigueroaMany saints show us being lowly is a fundamental virtue in human life and for many in the Christian life.

Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29).

We need to accept our weakness and internal poverty to be filled with the love of God; those who don’t accept it and cannot recognize their weaknesses and shortcomings will despise others and won’t be able to understand other human beings or forgive their weaknesses.

St. Martin de Porres, a native of Lima, Peru, stands before us as an example of lowliness and meekness. The Lord allowed that during his life he was so humiliated he became an example of God’s love on Earth. We know how despised he was because of his mixed race—he was born to a Spanish father and a freed Black slave. His life should continue to serve as a lesson for us that

no one should be discriminated against for any reason. God’s work through St. Martin confirmed, as St. Paul stated, we “are all one in Christ” (Gal 3:28).

Every time St. Martin de Porres was insulted or humiliated, he answered with a smile and a kind word. He did not feel worthy to become a priest in the Convent of Santo Domingo in Lima, where he was admitted as a lay brother. He felt called to minister to the poor and homeless, which is why he has a broom as a symbol of his lowliness and holiness.

In the Bible, it is written “to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Cor 12:7). It is a signal of how merciful our Lord is in giving charisms to the saints.

God gave to our humble brother St. Martin de Porres the gift of being able to perform miracles during his life and after he died. There are many who have witnessed the extraordinary miracles he performed and still does for the glory of God.

As Catholic Christians, we believe saints are also a source of Christ’s witness and his Gospel message. Each of them offers a spiritual connection to the grace of Jesus.

Through St. Martin’s life and ministry, our Church, even in these tumultuous times, can follow his example: it is a message of unity of races, and of service and commitment to the poor and those in need.

St. Martin’s multicultural background was not enough to stop the blessings God had prepared for him. He is the patron saint of hairdressers, race relations, innkeepers, African-Americans, public schools, interracial harmony, Peru, people of mixed race, social justice and more.

St. Martin was always willing to help others, and that is the best example to follow to receive the graces of God.

(A native of Peru, Jesus Figueroa is a member of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis.)

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