St. Martin de Porres is a Saint for our times. He was born in Lima, Peru in 1579, his parents being from two races: a Spanish father and a Black mother. Two races clearly divided became united in the person of Martin. As a young man, he entered the Dominican Order and “spent” his life helping the poor and outcast. He also cared for the sick during a time of an epidemic. Clearly, he was not concerned with social distancing as he went among the sick caring for them, a veritable “first responder.”
Martin reached out to the people his culture and society rejected: African and Native slaves and all those deemed unworthy due to the status of their birth. He, himself, was at first rejected by the Dominicans due to his dubious parentage. Prejudice runs deep and strong, even in the Church.
This beautiful Saint wasn’t just a man of justice, he also loved the Eucharist and spent hours in personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He brought together prayer, worship and devotions with outreach to the poor. St. Martin brought together in his humanity races, religion and justice.
In the first reading at mass today, St. Paul poetically describes Jesus as bringing together in his person humanity and divinity. But the Son EMPTIED himself of his divinity, taking on the identity of SERVANT, giving his life in selfless love. He didn’t use his divine nature to protect his human nature from death and suffering. Quite the contrary. Christ embraced fully the lowest possible position: being executed as a criminal outside the walls of the city, totally naked and rejected.
Martin and Christ teach us by their witness, not their words, to bring together in OUR humanity cultures and races. Our DNA is a powerful and poignant reminder that we are all combinations of various races and ethnic identities. When we separate these realities out and think of ourselves as “pure” whatever, racism is born. The divided person is the most dangerous person because from that inner division of heart comes forth violence in its many forms.
Redemption is the pathway of integration and healing. And from this pathway comes the healing of the human race.