Thursday, September 08, 2011

No Disciple Is Superior to the Teacher

September 9, 2011

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest

By Melanie Rigney

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:13-14)

You are my inheritance, O Lord. (Psalms 16:5)

“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.’” (Luke 6:40)


Lord, help me to recognize, appreciate, and emulate the teachers You place in my life.


In 1605, Pedro Claver, the son of a wealthy Spanish farming family, was attending the Jesuit college in Majorca. While he surely had access to some of the greatest Jesuit minds of the day, it was the college’s doorkeeper, Alphonsus Rodriguez, who, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “learned from God the future mission of his young associate, and thenceforth never ceased exhorting him to set out to evangelize the Spanish possessions in America.”

In 1610, Claver arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, where for forty-four years he served as what the Catholic Encyclopedia as “the Apostle of the negro slaves.” Claver would meet the ships where as many as a thousand slaves would land each month. He would talk with each person individually, describing himself as the person’s defender and father. He baptized them, and later, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “defended them against their oppressors,” even though his actions put him in opposition with slave merchants, the city’s leaders, and sometimes, his own superiors. It is estimated that in the following forty years, he baptized more than 300,000 enslaved people.

Claver was canonized on January 15, 1888—the same day as Alphonsus Rodriguez, the porter from his college days. When we think of our college days, we may remember our adviser, or a professor who was particularly difficult or thought provoking. How wise of Pedro Claver to recognize at such an early age that teachers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.


Write a letter of personal thanks to one of your teachers from your college days—or today.