From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
“Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s!” We live in two realities – the secular world and what God calls us to. We cannot ignore the secular, but we have to stay attuned to the Presence of God in our lives, so that we can come to a deeper understanding of what it is that God wants from each of us – His call is deep within our hearts. If our hearts are closed to God, if our hearts are muddied with the immorality of the world, then we will not be able to discern the path God is calling us to fulfill his plan for us.
We cannot simply separate ourselves from the world though. We have a mission and purpose here. God calls us to love our neighbor. He calls us to spend time in prayer hearing His will for our lives. By our response to His will, we witness to His love and goodness. Through our humble obedience we open ourselves that He may mold and shape us into the people He calls us to be.
But St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians today offers a glimpse of another very important virtue He calls us to – thanksgiving and gratitude for one another. Gratitude for the gift that we are to one another. If we have learned nothing else over the past few months, we surely have learned that we are dependent on God AND dependent on one another. Care, respect and appreciation 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. Even more, to have gratitude for each other – for to do so is to give glory and thanks to God!
By engaging positively with those who are different then us, by listening to what they have to say, we come to see that presence of Christ in them and they in us. Through patience and respect, we can embrace the differences we have seeking to honor those differences while recognizing where God is bringing us together in love and care for one another.
As Vincentian’s, we come face to face with the presence of Christ each and every day. He comes in the form of a single mom, an addict, an unemployed father, a neighbor in need and our fellow Vincentians. Each experience of Christ is unique and precious. Sometimes He is hard to see, but He is always there. 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 in ourselves, being loving, merciful and compassionate, seeking not to change but to embrace, humbly serving those we encounter. We should approach each other with thanksgiving and gratitude! 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. How do we extend our care for others based on their need and not their worthiness? Do we have gratitude for one another? Do I embrace my neighbors as my friends, expressing my thanks for their presence in my life?
Father, I offer my thanks for your great gift of Jesus, our brother, our teacher and our Savior! Grace me with the humility to see His presence in every person I encounter. Allow me to look past differences and see your presence in all who enter our lives. Help me to appreciate the unique presence and opportunity each person offers to me to meet you yet again! Allow me to accept the imperfections of others that I too may be accepted and loved in spite of my imperfections. Give me the grace to always and everywhere give you thanks! I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen