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Apr 29, 2024 260 Shalom Tidings
Encounter

The Sweet Fruit Basket

Martin de Porres was born in 16th-century Peru; he grew up facing the stigmas of both his mixed race and illegitimacy. After a barber-medical apprenticeship in his young years, he joined the Dominicans as a ‘lay helper’ and continued his barber work in the monastery.

One day, Brother Francis Velasco Carabantes approached Martin, desiring to talk to this man whom people were already starting to believe was saintly. Martin was busy with his barber work; he absent-mindedly grabbed this novice and placed him in the barber’s chair. Brother Francis had no inclination to have his head shaved; he disliked the hairstyle that the Dominicans used.

Before he could resist, Martin had finished his job, and Brother Francis was angry beyond expression. He started to shout, calling Martin all sorts of curse words. Martin was lost in prayer, and by the time he noticed that this novice was shouting, one of the rectors had seen the commotion and was scolding Brother Francis, who was severely punished and sent away.

Martin, once he came to realize what had happened, went to the rector with all possible excuses. He begged forgiveness for this person who had verbally abused him, trying even to explain away the curse words used. Finally, he told the rector: “Everyone knows what a sinner I am.” The rector, who was aware of Martin’s saintly life, gave in to his request and forgave Brother Francis. Not satisfied with this, Brother Martin even sent fresh fruit, which was a rare delicacy in the monastery, to Brother Francis.

How many times have we rejoiced in the ‘just’ punishments that our transgressors received? Let us pray to Saint Martin for the virtue of humility, to forgive and show the other cheek, as Jesus taught us to do.

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