In today’s parable from the Gospel of Luke, we hear Jesus teaching us about self-importance & humility, particularly in the context of our discipleship as followers of Christ. Perhaps, on the surface, we might interpret this parable to mean that all the wedding guest needed to do to be special in the eyes of God & in the eyes of all those at the wedding banquet was to sit in a very undistinguished at the end of the banquet table, to wait to be called to a place of honor nearer to the head of the table. This would show everyone how important the guest really was in the eyes his hosts.
Yet, the significance of this parable may rest in the way we only find true meaning in our lives in our relationship with God, as we accomplish nothing of importance without him. When we acknowledge our dependence upon God, when we are willing to completely put our trust in him, we will learn who God really is. Then we will learn about God’s love, patience, and forgiveness, as we start to share those same qualities with others in our lives.
There is so much for us to learn about God as we continue on our journeys of faith. On Thursday of this past week, we had the opportunity to celebrate the community of saints in a special way on All Saints Day, as we recognized those men and women who are now united with God in his eternal kingdom, who help us with their intercessory prayers. And we had the opportunity to pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed yesterday on All Souls Day, to pray for those family members, friends, and members of our community of faith who have departed from this world, those who are undergoing a process of purification.
In our Church today, there is a lot of diversity, there are different gifts operating at the same time. We celebrate this diversity of gifts in the saints of our Church. The diversity in our Church can sometime cause tension, this is true. Yet, since the beginning of the early Church, there has been a diversity of spirituality and different approaches as to how we can live out our faith. As we come together as a faith community, it's important to recognize the different gifts we bring to the Body of Christ, how in our unity in the midst of diversity we add so much to the life of our Church.
Today, we celebrate the feast day of Martin de Porres, a Dominican brother from Peru from the 16th century. Martin was very discriminated against in colonial Latin American society, being the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman & a freed African slave. However, Martin never gave up: he used his gifts to contribute to the Body of Christ, even though that was not always so easy for him. Martin's compassion for the poor & the sick of Lima made him a legend in his own time. Even in the midst of a society and a Church that greatly discriminated against him, his compassion and humble nature won over people's hearts and brought many to God. The broom became his symbol, because he would bring a broom with him to clean the living quarters of the sick and the poor when he would visit them. He eventually founded an orphanage and a children's hospital in Lima, Peru to care for the poor. From the alms he collected, he fed over 150 poor people a day. Martin was canonized as a saint by Pope John XXIII in 1962 – he is the patron saint of the poor & of social justice. He is still known today as the saint of the broom. Martin de Porres is a great example of the different gifts that exist in our Church.
As we learn from Jesus’ parables and from the saints such as St Martin de Porres, may all that we learn on our journey bring us ever closer to God.