Today is the feast of St. Peter Claver, the Jesuit missionary to Colombia who designated himself "slave of the slaves forever." The African slave trade was at its height, and so was the human misery that Peter encountered when he arrived in the new world from his native Spain. He devoted the rest of his life to compassionate ministry to the slaves, boarding the slave ships with food, water and medicine, and carrying out whatever services he could. Peter was the Mother Teresa of his day, because those slaves were the "poorest of the poor."
Like Paul, Father Claver could say, "Although I am free, I have made myself a slave." Not that Paul was the first one to come up with such an idea. It was really Christ, "who, though he was in the form of God, did not deem equality with God something to be exploited, but emptied himself and took the form of a slave."
It's an ugly word, but for Jesus, for Paul, and for Peter Claver, "taking the form of a slave" was the language of love.
Happy Birthday to my sister Lea Ann and her son Logan!