I describe being a Passionist as someone willing to be a channel, a "go-between," for the suffering love of Jesus from the cross toward those in sufferable situations. Whether in preaching or other ministerial work, Passionists deliberately put themselves in situations where there is obvious awkwardness, vulnerability, uncertainty, inconvenience or downright threat. But, no matter when we are in the presence of human suffering. The charism "moves" us to respond, as Christ Himself was moved with pity for the helpless crowds, and, as was the Samaritan called "good," moved to help the beaten foreigner. Our saint for the day, Bro. Martin de Porres, O.P., is exemplary for his move to minister to the poorest, most destitute in the African slave ships in Lima, Peru. He had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Martin included the poorest in the spirit of St. Paul’s opening line in today’s scripture, "We, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another." (12:5) This reading could be one’s mission statement. Ponder it, make it your own. The contrast to such a spirit is the attitude of the person at table with Jesus who is obviously enamored of Jesus and the grand possibilities of staying close to Him, like at a meal. "Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God." But Jesus knows who the most valued guests would be – those from the alleys, streets, hedgerows and highways, making them feel at home with a place to belong. Being of mixed race, Martin knew humiliation. The grace of Eucharist enables us to respond to suffering, even through our own woundedness. Taking all of this to the Cross, daily, puts the charism in the lens of how we see life, and in the soul of our ability to address the suffering that we encounter.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey High School, Birmingham, Alabama.