Today’s feast honors the gifted life of Alphonsus Rodriguez, a Jesuit Brother who served faithfully as sacristan and porter in the Jesuit community. A porter is one who watched over the front door of the community house meeting and greeted people who came to the door, a task that would definitely be considered a small and insignificant one. “Small” indeed, but Alphonsus accomplished that task with incredible distinction. As people got to know the humble and saintly brother he was sought after for his spiritual advice and counsel by many within and outside the Jesuit College where he worked. His life exemplifies the dictum of St. Augustine, “to be faithful in small things is a big thing.” Indeed, his humble ministry far exceeded the confines of the house he served.
Alphonsus entered the Jesuits in 1571. He had a significant influence, too, on the younger Jesuits who were studying at the College at Palma in Majorca in preparation for their priestly ordination. Of particular interest is his influence on Peter Claver, a novice in the house. Claver and Alphonsus had spiritual conversations that planted a seed in the heart/soul of the younger man. Ultimately that seed blossomed into the dangerous and difficult caring for the slaves who arrived from Africa in the port city of Cartagena, Colombia. Peter Claver would meet the slave ships when they arrived, go down into the holds of the ship and tend to the needs of the slaves who had endured brutal months at sea. He continued to tend to them as they waited to be auctioned to slave holders in the market places in Cartagena; he ministered their many needs both physical and spiritual. What an incredible story of two saints interacting with each other. What an influence that must have been for both of them, the elder and the younger sharing deeply of their faith in Jesus.
On this day of Halloween, the eve of All Saints, we ask the Lord to continue to bless us in the lives of those that have gone before us and have lived their lives in Christ to an excellent degree. These older sisters and brothers of ours model for us the way to imitate Christ in our lives. Their generosity, their big-heartedness, their spirit continues to inspire us today as we seek to open ourselves to the grandeur of God’s love for us as expressed in the life, death and resurrection of our brother and Lord, Jesus the Christ.
Who are the people in our own lives that have been a significant image of God’s love for us in Christ? A parent who never lost faith in us? A beloved grandmother who saw the best in us? A dear friend who invited us to follow our dreams and to distinguish them from the schemes that would dead-end in the not distant future? The person who knows us even better than we know ourselves and who trusts us to the limits and helps us to trust in ourselves?
These are the “living” saints who are with us who simply and humbly invite us to plumb the depths of our gifts. The saints, whether officially canonized or not, who help us to stretch out as women and men of faith, hope, and love. They make our world better, and give us the impetus to make others’ lives better. Who have been the ones to inspire us? The humble Rodriguez at his quiet porter’s post and the incredibly active Claver pouring himself out in Cartagena for the poorest of the poor – remain in our midst in those around us and we are moved to gratitude to God who mediates his love through them. A true source of hope and gratitude.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook