A saint who answered God’s call (after lots of resistance)
A Reflection for the Memorial of Saint Toribio de Mogrovejo, bishop
Find today’s readings here.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38)
St. Toribio de Mogrovejo was sent to labor for the harvest in one of the most dramatic ways imaginable.
Toribio was a layman and a lawyer in Spain, serving as the chief of the inquisition in Granada, when church leaders, recognizing his good character, decided to make him an archbishop. This is difficult enough for a modern Catholic to imagine. What sequence of events led this to happen? (Long story short: Toribio protested, but was eventually ordained.) He was sent to the far end of the world to serve as archbishop of Peru, where he would spend years traveling across the vast expanse of his diocese.
God calls all of us. Sometimes, like Toribio, we resist; but when we respond, there is no limit to what we can achieve in his name.
Like Jesus himself, Toribio traveled from village to village, preaching the Good News. In many cases he was not given food to eat or a bed to sleep in. One can imagine him taking solace from today’s words from St. Paul: “Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” During his travels, he saw how the native peoples were abused by the conquistadors and fought against it. Today he is the patron saint of native peoples’ rights and Latin American bishops.
St. Toribio did not want to be a bishop, and he no doubt had reservations about leaving home to spend the rest of his life halfway across the world. But he responded to God’s call and in the process was fundamentally changed. From a lawyer moving among the elite in Spain, he journeyed to the margins, saw the suffering of the people firsthand and responded to their cries. In addition to building hospitals and schools, he organized several local synods and provincial councils. He died in 1606.
The Christian story is remarkably consistent. God calls all of us. Sometimes, like Toribio, we resist; but when we respond, there is no limit to what we can achieve in his name.