Rejoice – we do the work of the Lord as John did. We are not Christ, but we witness to his goodness and mercy. For he is both here in our midst and awaiting for us at the eternal banquet. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he invites us to live in joy, prayer, and thanksgiving, for this is what God wants of us. God gives us holiness in our lives through thee Holy Spirit. One of our primary responsibilities as Christians is to show the face of Christ in our individual existence by using the gifts he gives us to their fullest extent.
As Vincentians, this compels us to reach out in charity and love to help others who are hurting – to bring God’s love and hope to them through our very presence. We are called to be truthful and authentic in our witness and work. We are called to make the Lord present and active in our lives, in the lives of those around us, and in the lives of those we minister to. Am I authentic in my witness to Christ? Do I make His presence come alive for those whom he brings before me? Do I allow my ministry to be led and inspired by the Spirit?
Father, give me the courage to be your face to others in my life. Grant me the grace to witness effectively and to testify to your presence and goodness. Allow me to not ‘quench the Spirit’, but rather to be inspired by the Spirit listening always to your will for me. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
We celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary this Friday. She is the Patroness of SVdP as well as for our country. The Feast celebrates the fact that she was without sin (the only human other than Jesus who can make that claim). She was without sin, but she was not without free will. She could have refused God, but she chose to allow God to enact His plan. We too have free will and the ability to allow God to enact his plan in and through our lives – or to reject it. We who are related to God by the grace of our baptism are given opportunity after opportunity to allow his plan to reach its fulfillment within us. Mary had ultimate trust in God’s love and plan for each of us. She gave total and complete submission to His will. We hear throughout the gospels that she “kept all these things in her heart”. She accepts with gratitude all that God gives us and seeks His will in all things. She is the model of silent suffering, merciful kindness, compassionate love, and graceful strength in the face of adversity.
As Vincentians, Mary is our eternal Mother and the embodiment of all we should aspire to be. She shows us the path to pure holiness. Do I accept all that God brings before me with gratitude and without hesitation? Do I seek and follow His guidance in all decisions. Do I allow His plan to become reality through my life? Am I the comfort to others that Mary is to me?
Father, thank you for the gift of Mary, our eternal and loving Mother. Allow me to see in her all that you call me to be. Allow me to embrace your will for my life and for the lives of those I minister to as she embraced your will. Grant me the humility, the gentleness, the selflessness, the patience and the passion to follow in the model of love and compassion our Blessed Mother has shown us. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
We begin a new liturgical year with anticipation of the birth of a newborn. God is fully aware of our challenges, obstacles and missteps. But He comes as a little baby, innocent and without judgement. He comes to meet us, not so much so that he can get to know us, but so that we might come to know Him. He came, not for his convenience, but for ours. He spends his first 30 years learning about us, listening to us and walking among us. The next three he uses to invite us to ‘come and see’, teach us, to guide us and to challenge us – but never to force us. He offers us mercy, compassion, friendship and hope. In the end, he sacrifices and suffers for us, giving everything he has, not dependent on our response in the moment, but in anticipation of the hope which tomorrow offers.
As a Vincentian, it strikes me that this is perhaps the most impressive home visit of all time. Home visits are at the core of being a Vincentian AND a Christian. It is in the home visit that we become known to the client and that the doors of hope are swung wide. We should not fear it, but embrace it and the client family as God embraces us – in love, mercy and compassion bringing the gift of new opportunities for today and hope for tomorrow. I know some conferences and individuals shy away from the home visits. We wrap our hesitancy in excuses of it is not safe, it’s an intrusion of their space, their place is not clean and so much more. How do I approach the home visit? Do I come for the client or for me? Do I come first to hear their story and to know them? Do I work to establish relationship or simply ‘gather the facts?’ Do I offer opportunity, friendship, compassion and hope – or only food and money? Am I willing to join in their suffering?
Father, give me the courage to embrace the home visit. Let me be your presence that I might make a difference. Let me come humbly before those in need, offering myself in friendship and as a companion on the journey. Let me bring the truth of simplicity laced with gentleness, patience and selflessness. Let me offer a passionate love for those we encounter that they may feel your embrace. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
In our gospel this week, Jesus addresses that ultimate question – what separates those who go to heaven from those who don’t? His message is clear and perhaps not quite what some would expect. He says nothing about those things we typically think of as sins, the things that we do that are wrong. Sins of commission. Rather, he talks about the things we DID NOT do – the sins of omission. And they are all about caring for one another – particularly those who are in need. It is failure to care for those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison and so on which will keep us from heaven.
As Vincentians, this is the motivation for caring for those who are in need. Doing so brings us holiness by bringing us closer to God and allowing us to see the presence of Christ. Doing so makes us imitators of Christ following what he taught us. Do I reach out in charity only when it is convenient, or in every instance God places before me? Am I aware of those who are hurting around me, offering to them the presence of Christ?
Father, grace me with the gift of awareness, that I may recognize when someone is in need. Help me to never pass an opportunity to be your presence to another, even when it is inconvenient. Let me serve in humility recognizing with thanksgiving that all I have comes from you that I might freely share my gifts with others. Let me never hesitate to answer the knock on the door, that I may never miss seeing and serving you. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen