St. Paul tells us we are called to live, “not according to the wisdom of this age, but according to God’s wisdom.” That wisdom he reminds us, has been revealed to us in the life of Jesus made known to us, “through the Spirit.” We are reminded in our first reading that we can choose to follow that wisdom – or not! We each have free will which we exercise in the way we live. God reaches out to us continually inviting us to choose good over evil, life over death. In Jesus he gave us our teacher and our model of how to live. In the Holy Spirit, he gave us our companion for the journey. Jesus lays out for us in the Sermon on the Mount what discipleship looks like and how we are to achieve it.
Jesus tells us in today’s selection, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” What are we to make of this? Jesus is telling us it is about more than laws or rules. Following the laws such as the Ten Commandments is the entry price into His world. We follow those out of obligation, fear or both. But Jesus wants more than obedience. He wants us to be virtuous as he is virtuous. He is teaching us that our actions must be driven by more than obedience – they must be driven by love and desire – desire to please God, to glorify God and to love God. The laws and teachings that God gives us are to teach us how to accomplish this. As we embrace God’s laws, we may begin out of obligation but as we develop habits that incline us to do good (definition of virtue), those virtues lead us to desire and love of God.
Jesus desires us to go deeper with our faith and in the living out of our lives. The Laws and the rules provide us guideposts and reminders. But we need to exceed them by living the virtuous life he has modeled for us. He calls us to care for others as he has cared for us. In this way we build relationships with others and with God himself – relationships built through God’s love and formed by His Wisdom.
As Vincentians, we have the Rule, the Manual, and the Home Visit at the very core of who we are. Vincentian virtues and the Vincentian Pathway guide us as we develop those habits which lead us to holiness. In ministry to the poor and those in need, we sometimes find discomfort as we learn to love as God loves. Our goal is to grow in holiness as we move from ministry done because we ‘know it is the right thing to do;’ to ministry born out of unconditional love and mercy, that has at its core a desire to serve Christ in the poor. How do I foster my ministry that it might be born not out of an obligation to do ‘right’, but a desire to love God in others? What challenges do I face as I travel this journey of growth?
Lord Jesus, soften my heart that I might see Christ in those I serve. Help me to grow in my desire to serve. Give me the courage to confront my prejudices so that I might overcome them. Give me the will to serve humbly in service to you. Give me the passion to set the world on fire with your love! We pray all of this in your name. Amen