Seek the Lord!  Seek justice!  Seek Humility!  Be humble and you will grow in virtue.  This is the message we hear from the Prophet Zephaniah in our first reading. Zephaniah warned against the sinfulness and destructiveness of pride.  Pride is the deadliest of sins.  It is the downfall of mankind and angels alike.  Pride causes us to move our focus from God to self.  In a world which places a premium on success, on winning, on being the best, it is easy to succumb to the sin of pride.  Like St. Paul, many of us have been confronted with a transformative moment or time in our lives.  God knocks us off our horse, shows us the blindness in our lives, and provides us a new vision full of hope.  Often that hope came in the form of a merciful, compassionate, caring servant of Christ.  The prophet Micah proclaimed to us that what is expected of us by God is “to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

Humility is the virtue which helps us to overcome pride. Humility is being open to God’s presence.  Humility calls us to recognize that we do nothing on our own – it is by God’s grace – and his grace alone – that we are able to accomplish anything and everything.  It is only in relationship with God, through prayer and constant companionship, that we overcome our sinfulness.  St. Paul tells us “it is due to God himself that we can be in Christ Jesus.”…He chose us!…Jesus, who was meek and humble of heart, came among us not to be served, but to serve.  He modeled that service in his life and at the Last Supper.  And he instructed us to follow him.

In the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes in particular, Jesus offers us a prescription for the way we are to live.    They offer hope to those who are afflicted or may be disenfranchised, and they offer promise to those who seek the Lord by walking humbly in service to others.  They explain the way our hearts and minds should be if we truly wish to have a proper relationship with God.  They call us to a different place then the world does.  And because God loves us, we can care for the weak, remove injustices, alleviate poverty, stop oppression, and restore righteousness in our world.  We can defend the unborn, support the elderly, and lift the hearts of those without hope.  Through God’s love, we have the power to touch hearts with compassion, let others see his love in our eyes, and heal wounds through selflessness.  Through his love we are blessed and through his love we can bless others and through his love and his grace, the kingdom of heaven can be ours.

Saint Vincent DePaul provides us opportunity to reach out and help others in the way Christ calls us to.   This is the very essence of the mission of Saint Vincent DePaul.  Inspired by gospel values, joined together to grow spiritually through person to person service to those in need, united in a spirit of poverty, charity and humility and nourished by prayer.  Humility, prayer and Eucharist are at the very core of the Society.

As Vincentians, every day we are presented with people who are also facing potentially transformative moments in their lives.  We should recognize that we are not brought into their lives by accident but rather by the grace of God.  We may be the catalyst for their transformation if we allow God to work through us.   Perhaps, they may be providing a transformative moment for us as the face of Christ.  We should open ourselves in each encounter, in humility and love, to the presence of Christ – and the changes that He calls us all to.

Lord Jesus, help me to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly.  Strip away my prejudices and the hardness in my heart.  Transform my thoughts and actions aligning them fully and completely with your will.  Provide me with the wisdom to make the choices you seek and the courage to pursue your will.   We pray all of this in your name.  Amen.  

Deacon Mike