Among the most important things we ever say, our last words probably rank pretty high. That is certainly the time to say the one thing that is closest to our heart; the thing we want others to hear and perhaps even remember us by.
The last words of the man we remember today, St. Martin de Porres, are a perfect case in point. Brief yet the height of eloquence, they capture him as no other words could. As he lay near death, Martin continued to do what he so often did in life – he prayed. As he and his Dominican community recited the Creed, St. Martin breathed his last at the words of the Incarnation: “et homo factus est” (“And became man”).
It is fortuitous that the first reading today gives us those beautiful words of Philippians that sing of our Lord, Jesus Christ: though he was in the form of God, (he) did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… (Philippians 2:6-7). Since those words were first written, humanity has struggled to understand this depth of humility; how the all-powerful, indivisible, unseen God could so humble himself as to take up the fragile flesh of his own creation and, through the perfect oblation of his passion, death, and resurrection lift, redeem and exalt it to the glory of God the Father.
Imagine the mercy; imagine the kind of love that would do this.
This was the love that St. Martin de Porres poured himself out to imitate: To be himself that same model of charity; to plumb the depths of humility that would bring him closer and closer to Christ. Driven by this, Martin spent his life doing the things that Christ did – praying constantly, working incessantly, serving the servants, offering himself whenever and wherever he could. All this made his last words not only an affirmation of the Incarnation but the most eloquent and fitting summary of his life: Humility born of love, given completely to service, that others may live.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us.