“Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s!” How do we live in two realities? It is not acceptable that we simply ignore or despise the society and world we live in. We also cannot simply set God and the truth of our faith to the side. God does not look for us to live outside the world but rather live within it and finding ways to make His presence real and tangible. What belongs to God is truth, honesty, compassion, mercy – and each and every one of us. Care and respect for one another is paramount and should rise above all other considerations. That care and respect extends not only to those we agree with or condone, but also to those who we view as our enemies or as different. As Christians we are called to an honesty and a love that seeks to embrace and respect all. God’s love is universal and not based on our acceptance of Him. Likewise our love for others should not be based on their acceptance of a particular set of beliefs.
As Vincentians, we may find ourselves on occasion dealing with situations we may at first find offensive. It is easy to judge and walk away. Much more challenging is to – through our love and care – show the presence and face of Christ, being loving, merciful and compassionate, seeking not to change but to embrace, humbly serving those we encounter. In so doing, we are reminded that Christ continually extends his love and compassion to each of us, even when we are less than perfect. Do we extend our care for others based on their need and not their worthiness?
Father, give me the grace to be compassionate in all circumstances. Allow me to look past differences and see your presence in all whom we serve, regardless of circumstance. Help me to accept the imperfections of others that I too may be accepted and loved in spite of my imperfections. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
October 15 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 13 – 100th Anniversary of Fatima Miracle and Appearance of the Blessed Mother
This parable of the wedding feast is the focus of this week’s readings. The king has prepared a lavish feast for his guests, but those you would expect to attend refuse to come. So he invites anyone and everyone. Of course the feast we are truly talking about here is the heavenly banquet. Those whom you would have thought would have the front seats (the religious leaders of Jesus’ time for example) turn their backs and don’t show. The invitation is extended to all. Some come but do nothing to prepare. In order to properly attend the feast, some preparation is necessary. Jesus comes to us to help us in our preparations, both paying for our admission and providing us with directions. We must prepare through our prayers, our care for the poor, our development of virtuous lives and our conversion of attitude and heart.
As Vincentians, we are provided a pathway toward this preparation if we but chose to follow it. Through our ministry to those in need, we are given the opportunity to follow the model of Jesus in mercy and compassion. Through our ministry, we learn much about humility, patience, gentleness and selflessness – all part of the virtuous life we seek. Do we take the opportunity to respond to the invitation that God places before us in our ministry? Do we center ourselves in prayer? Do we grow in virtue that we may become more like Christ every day? Do we ‘dress’ ourselves properly that we might be welcome guests at the heavenly feast?
Father, I thank you for the invitation to your great feast. Help me to prepare that I might be a welcome and worthy guest. Dress me in a virtuous life robed in humility, patience, gentleness and love of others. Give me the courage and strength to remain ever faithful to you in prayer, constantly seeking your will for myself and others. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
This week we hear another parable about vineyards – one which becomes violent as the tenants seize and kill the servants of the master and then the son. The message of Jesus to the religious leaders is they have misused the fruits of God’s vineyard – they have been focused on themselves and their desires rather than the master’s. God has a plan for each of us. He knows what is best for us. He provided the cornerstone of Jesus Christ to lead us to a vast and wonderful harvest. He calls us to be faithful and responsive to his care for us that we might reap the fruits of the harvest.
As Vincentians, we too should have a singular focus in our ministry and our lives. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith and his care and concern for the poor and vulnerable of our Vincentian ministry. We should seek the Lord’s answers to those situations he places before us. In prayer and humility, we are called to care for those God places before us. Do we keep our eyes squarely on God’s plan for ourselves and those we minister to when seeking answers to difficulties? Do we trust in God’s plan and seek to fulfil his will always? Is prayer a cornerstone of our lives?
Father, allow me to be a faithful caretaker in your vineyard. Allow me to nurture those in need, helping them to grow in there love and hope in you. Help me to never lose sight of your will, trusting always in your ways. Allow me to grow in prayer being ever focused on our Lord Jesus. Help me to serve in humility, selflessly and with great passion. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
We have heard a great deal over the past few weeks from Jesus about reconciliation, forgiveness and mercy. This week Jesus tells us the story o the two sons – one who at first defies him but ultimately chooses to obey. The second indicates he will obey but does not. In many ways it parallels the story of the Prodigal Son. It is also a story about each of us. For we are all sinners. But God rejoices in those who recognize their sinfulness and strive to transform their hearts wrapped in God’s mercy and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. Each of us must travel the journey of setting aside our pride, our self-centeredness, and other sins, replacing them with humility, gentleness and selflessness. Some come quickly and others take a little longer. But God waits patiently for each of us welcoming us home with great joy.
As Vincentians, we seek these virtues of humility, gentleness, selflessness, simplicity and zeal that we might grow in our holiness and turn toward God in all we do. This is the gift that those we minister to give to us. They teach us these virtues by their living examples. They are not perfect – they make mistakes. Neither am I perfect. What those who are suffering though have learned is humility and gentleness in ways I can only aspire too. Watch those who are suffering and a common trait is care for others. Do I pay attention? Do I accept the gift they give me with gratitude? Do I set my pride and self-importance to the side that I might see the presence of Christ in all situations?
Father, I am a sinner who has offended you. Grant that my heart might be touched by your presence in the poor and the suffering. Help me to see the gift they offer me. Help me to let go of my pride, my self-importance, my lack of patience, my deceit of even myself that I might recognize you waiting in the distance for me to journey toward you. Allow me to embrace those in need that I might feel your loving embrace of me. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen