Yesterday I spoke of those who work against a world hostile to the Church. Today, with Peter, we look at someone who worked against those who were supposedly on his side, fellow Christians who enslaved others and treated them with, if not disdain, at least indifference.
Peter was sharp, becoming a Jesuit by the tender age of 20. He came as a missionary to America and in his youth easily saw the injustice and worked to give not conversion but compassion. "We must speak to [the slaves] with our hands by giving, before we try to speak to them with our lips." His "love first" practice supposedly converted over 300,000, a mind-boggling number, but once again, it is his holiness that we celebrate and seek to emulate.
Peter pray that we work with compassion and seek first to relieve injustice rather than imposing our will instead of God's.
After pronouncing his blessing on poverty, the Lord added Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Dearly beloved, this mourning that is promised eternal comfort has nothing in common with the afflictions of this world. No-one is made blessed by the kind of lamentation that the whole human race indulges in. The sighs and blessed tears of the saints have another cause. Holy sorrow comes from contemplating one’s own sins and the sins of others. It does not weep at the actions of divine justice but at the sins committed by human wickedness. It is the one who does evil here who is to be pitied, not the one who suffers it: for what the evil man has done thrusts him down to punishment, while what the just man has put up with leads him up into glory.
Then the Lord added Blessed are the meek, for they shall have the earth for their inheritance. To the meek and gentle, to the lowly and unassuming, to all who are prepared to endure injury – to these the earth is promised. This is not a small or unimportant inheritance, as if “the earth” were somehow distinct from a dwelling-place in heaven: in fact, you must understand it as meaning that only the meek will enter the kingdom of heaven. This earth that is promised to the meek, that is to be given to the gentle to possess, is the body of the saints, whose humility will raise them up and clothe them in the glory of immortality, united at last with the Spirit of unity. Then the outer self will belong to the inner self at last, a peaceful and secure possession.
The meek will possess this inheritance in everlasting peace and their right to it will never grow less. Our present perishable nature must put on imperishability and this mortal nature must put on immortality, so that a danger to the soul becomes a reward and what was onerous becomes an honor.
― Leo the Great, on the Beatitudes