Sunday Scriptures

Becoming Slaves for the Sake of the Gospel

The parish of St. Martin de Porres, where I currently serve as pastor, is a canonically-merged parish with three churches: Our Lady of Victory, Holy Rosary and St. Peter Claver. I am blessed to have three uniquely beautiful churches that are at my disposal for private prayer. Each of the three churches has a spacious choir loft where I enjoy spending time in prayer.

Each of the churches has a distinct architecture, both interior and exterior. This year, St. Peter Claver Church celebrates its 100th year of establishment. The founding pastor, Servant of God Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn founded this church in honor of St. Peter Claver. This Jesuit missionary priest ministered to the Black slaves who were in Colombia. He dedicated his priestly ministry to ultimately become a slave among the slaves. St. Peter Claver is a clear example of today’s second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

St. Paul tells us today that in order to preach the gospel, we must first and foremost live out the Gospel message by example. As members of the mystical Body of Christ, we have been called to bring the Good News to all of God’s holy people. We must not use this call to boast or to enlighten our own selves, but to bring others closer to the love Christ has for them. In order to preach the gospel to others, we must live our lives in accord with the gospel.

St. Peter Claver converted hundreds of slaves to Christianity. He literally preached the gospel to them, but he also lived it amongst them, becoming a slave for the salvation of their souls and the purity of their hearts. Paul says, “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.”

Jesus himself tells us that he was sent by the Father to preach the good news. We see how the Lord cures the sick and casts out demons. Their lives were transformed by the healing hand and words of Christ. Imagine the lives we can touch if we preach the gospel by the example of our lives. Imagine the lives that we as disciples of the Lord can change if we all live out that message as brothers and sisters. We must not allow our own thinking or ideology to get in the way of proclaiming the message of Christ, which is love, unity and peace.

We must not think too much of ourselves but always look at what we can do to strengthen the Body of Christ here on earth. We must become a slave to all to bring our brothers and sisters to the heart of Christ. We see that our world is in need of healing. We can initiate that healing, all of which stems from the heart of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that God will continue to bestow his love and mercy upon us, his children, that we may be a slave for the sake of the gospel.

Readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Job 7:1-4, 6-7

Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Mark 1:29-39

Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant and coordinator for the vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns for the Diocese of Brooklyn.