“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” In our gospel this week, the apostles are arguing about who is the greatest among them – pride and ego on full display. Jesus reminds them – and us – of the call and the charge to each of them if they wish to follow him. Using a child, he says to receive (care for) one such as this is to receive Him. It is a call to not only help the vulnerable in society, but to embrace them, walk with them, and become one with them. It is a call to self-sacrifice – setting aside our needs and wants so that we might make their needs our needs. It is a life long journey to grow closer to God by growing closer to those most in need.
As Vincentians, we are called to embrace this with zeal and passion as our patron – St. Vincent did. September is a celebration of this vocational call for all of us. Earlier this month (September 9) we celebrated the Feast Day of Blessed Frederic Ozanam and the birthday of Blessed Rosalie Rendu. On September 27 we celebrate the death and Feast Day of St. Vincent DePaul. This Sunday is the ordination date for Vincent as a priest. I’m not sure we readily remember that he was a priest for 60 years, most of which were devoted to the care of the poor and vulnerable. When Vincent became a priest, I am not sure he fully understood what his vocation was calling him to. It was when he turned his focus to WALKING with the poor and vulnerable. He received the poor as his own and therefore received Christ, growing in holiness and closeness to God. It required him to become a true servant to all. Where am I on my journey? Do I give completely and sacrificially of myself to the care of others? Do I receive the poor and vulnerable as I would a child? Do I simply help those in need, or do I walk with them as Vincent did?
Lord Jesus, help me to grow in the virtue of self-sacrifice. Give me the grace to see the innocence of a child and the face of Christ deep within those whom you bring before me. Allow me to grow in my zeal and passion for those in need. Help me to embrace them as my brothers and sisters, putting my arms around them as Christ does a child. We pray all of this in your name. Amen