By Fr Stephan Alexander, General Manager, CCSJ and AMMR
In a practical sense, why we do what we do should always be an important consideration. It’s important because this knowledge isn’t only a significant motivator but will often be the catalyst for consistency in keeping us rooted in our mission.
This principle is applicable to all areas of life including family life, work, study, spirituality, charitable work, and ultimately living our Christian vocation, which is nothing more than responding to God’s invitation for us to love God and our neighbours.
In and throughout the life of St Martin de Porres, the patron saint of Social Justice whose feast day is annually celebrated on November 3, we see this constant reflection on the reality of who we are as children of God, and why we do what we do because we are God’s children.
In his homily at the Mass of canonisation for St Martin, Pope John XXIII (now St Pope John XXIII) exemplified this feature of our patron’s life and ministry by noting that “Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men because he honestly looked on them as God’s children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.”
St Martin’s constant reflection on God’s love for him led him to love in profound ways.
Born in Lima, Peru, in 1579, St Martin encountered poverty, hardship and prejudice from an early age due to his mixed-race heritage. However, these childhood experiences didn’t embitter Martin but made him sensitive to the problems of the poor and oppressed.
Profound love and empathy for others were the fruits of St Martin’s constant contemplation which, when coupled with his unwavering faith, propelled him to embrace a life of profound humility and selflessness.
Central to St Martin’s legacy was his tireless advocacy for the oppressed and marginalised. He devoted himself to the Dominican Order, where his compassion knew no bounds.
With an innate understanding of God’s love and human suffering, he extended his care to everyone, regardless of their social status or background. He established orphanages, hospitals, and shelters, providing care for the sick, the poor, and abandoned children. Through his actions, he advocated for equal access to care and compassion, laying the foundation for the principles of social justice.
St Martin’s commitment to social justice was not confined within the walls of institutions. It extended to the streets where he walked. He tended to the sick, embracing the outcasts society had cast aside. His acts of mercy transcended societal norms, emphasising the inherent dignity of every human being, irrespective of their circumstances.
In his interactions, St Martin exemplified the virtues of humility and charity. He treated all individuals with kindness and respect, recognising the divine spark within each soul.
His unwavering belief in the sanctity of every person’s life inspired others to embrace a similar ethos of compassion and justice. Furthermore, St Martin de Porres was a pioneer in breaking down racial barriers.
He defied the prevalent prejudices of his time, advocating for unity and equality among people of diverse backgrounds. His actions spoke volumes, fostering a spirit of inclusivity and unity that transcended societal divisions.
St Martin’s commitment to social justice stemmed from his profound spirituality and unwavering faith in God’s love. He saw in every act of service an opportunity to manifest the divine love for humanity.
His life was a testament to the belief that social justice is not merely a concept but a lived reality—an embodiment of love and compassion in action. As our patron, St Martin inspires us to continue his mission which is itself a continuation of the mission of Jesus Christ.
Hence, the CCSJ has among its focus care for migrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking, working for restorative justice and caring for our common home. We love because God first loved us and our response, like Martin’s, is the expression of that shared with others.
The CCSJ asks for your support.
Catholic Commission for Social Justice
Account #: 290 458 025 501
Bank: Republic Bank Ltd.
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