In 2017, Pope Francis made an apostolic trip to Colombia, and while there, celebrated Mass in the port area of Cartagena. He did so recalling the massive slave trade that had been centered there, looking to St. Peter Claver for inspiration.
In particular, Pope Francis explained in his homily how charity towards another person doesn’t require any “qualification,” but can be practiced by anyone.
Alongside Saint Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated … but only a handful started a counter-cultural movement of encounter. Saint Peter was able to restore the dignity and hope of hundreds of thousands of black people and slaves arriving in absolutely inhuman conditions, full of dread, with all their hopes lost. He did not have prestigious academic qualifications, and he even said of himself that he was “mediocre” in terms of intelligence, but he had the genius to live the Gospel to the full, to meet those whom others considered merely as waste material.
St. Peter Claver’s example highlights for us that charity towards our neighbor does not need an academic degree or qualification.
Charity simply requires an openness to God’s will and a willingness to imitate Jesus’ love in the Gospel.
St. Peter Claver explained in a letter that the missionaries wanted to treat everyone with dignity and care.
Then we sat, or rather knelt, beside them and bathed their faces and bodies with wine. We made every effort to encourage them with friendly gestures and displayed in their presence the emotions which somehow naturally tend to hearten the sick.
As we strive to live a Gospel-filled life, may we recognize that we don’t need any qualifications to be charitable, but can love our neighbor with the grace of God.