From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
May 1 – Third Sunday of Easter
Last week we celebrated the overwhelming mercy of our God. His mercy is poured out for us by the blood and water shed by His son on the cross as he paid the price for our sins. His mercy continues to be showered upon us even to this day as he gives us his son in the Eucharist to nourish us and his Spirit to guide, strengthen and protect us. For the apostles who were still in shock from the events of the day, his mercy came in his very presence in their lives. Last week he appears to them behind locked doors and works to alleviate their fears. This week, he meets them at the sea shore where he cooks for them and offers another example of his great mercy.
“Peter, do you love me?” Three times Jesus asks the question. This parallel’s the three times Peter denied Christ, showing the full and complete measure of His mercy – a mercy that wipes away the sins of the past totally and completely. Peter says, ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus responds “Feed my sheep.” Jesus shows both his love and mercy to Peter – and to us. It calls us to focus only on the possibilities of the future. It is a mercy given without condition other than a desire to receive it. It is the mercy we are called to show others. For Jesus continually extends His mercy to us, even when we don’t deserve it. His only real question to us is “Do you love me?” If we do, then he asks that we care for one another. He knows that we will stumble and fall in our journey – just as Peter did – to love him and follow him. When we do, he patiently waits for us to rise and continue the journey. Surely if His mercy and forgiveness extends so deeply to those who abandoned him at his time of greatest need and suffering; it extends to us as well. He does not condemn nor ask for an apology. He asks only for love – the love which he first gives to us.
As Jesus came to sit with the apostles at the sea shore and feed them, he comes to sit with us every time we come to the Eucharistic table. He nourishes us that we might then go out and provide the food of hope to others we encounter. We are called, as Peter and the others were, to continually ‘feed his sheep’ with forgiveness, mercy, hope and love. We are to be the very face of Christ to others, for indeed, he reminds us; “what you do for one of the least of these, you do for me.” He asks us “Do you love me?” and invites us into the mercy that is his love so that we might become that love and mercy to those around us.
As Vincentians, we are called to have the same patience, mercy and love. Especially when our neighbors in need may stumble, we must redouble our efforts to show our love and care for them. In so doing, we reflect the light and joy of Christ that they might feel the warm embrace of his unending mercy. How do I act with patience when things go awry? How am I compassionate, not condemning, but reaching out even more when I am called to? How do I humbly seek to lift up those I minister to?
Lord Jesus Christ, who is Mercy Himself, give us eyes and a heart directed toward the poor; help us to recognize you in them – in their thirst, their hunger, their loneliness, and their misfortune. Enkindle within our Vincentian Family the fire of your love that burned in St. Vincent de Paul as well. Allow us to be vessels of the food of your hope in the service we give. Allow us to act with mercy and compassion in all that we do. Strengthen us, so that faithful to you, we may contemplate you and serve you in the person of the poor, and may one day be united with you and them in your Kingdom. Amen