Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
2911, 2022

December 4- Second Sunday of Advent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

 

December 4 – Second Sunday of Advent

 

“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together.”  What a wonderful image from our first reading today.  An image of a time when all is right with the world.    Hard to imagine isn’t it?  Especially in a world and at a time when acrimony and hatred seem to be so rampant.    It is hard to imagine this world of peace and harmony.  And yet, this image corresponds to the deepest longings of the human heart, and points to God’s ultimate goal for each of us.  Such a vision can nurture our hearts and our souls.  It offers us hope in this time of when tragedy often seems to be just around the corner.

 

This is the wonder – the heart of the Advent season.  God calls out to us offering us the hope of a new world and better times.  We look forward to that time with great anticipation.  He delivers that hope in a tiny package at an obscure place – the birth of Jesus in a manger.  The hope is brought to fulfillment at a time of darkness and agony for the human soul on a hillside with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  The hope will be fully realized with his coming again.  For us – this is what it is about – he has come and he will come again.   This is the hope Paul calls us to in his letter to the Romans.  It is a hope grounded in the trust that God will fulfill his promises in his way and his time.  Rich Mullins wrote a song called My Deliverer, in which he talks about the children looking over the banks of the Nile waiting for the coming of their deliverer.  The words at one point say; “He will never break his promise.  He has written it upon the sky.  I will never doubt his promise, though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes!”  These words capture the essence of our hope that resides in the promise of Jesus returning in glory.

 

It is in Jesus, who is the coming of God and the rebirth of our covenant with him, that we find our hope and salvation.  In so many ways and places, God has found ways to come to us and fill us with hope.  He continually reaches out to fill our needs, to care for us, to come into our lives and to be present with us even in times of darkness.

 

The examples are boundless.  He came to Moses and the Jewish people through the events of Passover, a burning bush and the Ten Commandments.   He came to Mary through the words of an angel – although he was with her long before then.  He comes to us through Mary.  St. Pope John Paul II said of Mary that “she represents the saving grace of Easter.”   She presents to us our redemption, as well as our model of discipleship and our hope for the future.  In the person of Christ, God comes to us in the most significant way to date.  His coming gives us our hope for today and tomorrow.  His life serves as our model and guide.  His death and resurrection open the doors to eternity.   The gift Jesus gave us gives us our hope for tomorrow.  Pope Benedict said in his encyclical Saved In Hope that “we are given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal.”  He goes on to say; “the one who has hope lives differently; the one who has hope has been granted the gift of a new life.”  Even in these difficult times, we can look forward to the future knowing tomorrow will be better.

 

As Vincentians, we are the carriers of that hope to those we encounter and minister to.  We are called to open our hearts in love, in mercy and in compassion that the hope of Jesus Christ becomes present and evident to others.  As Christ brings his hope to each of us, he calls us to bring it to others.  How well do I make his hope visible to those I encounter?

 

Lord Jesus, lead me to be a peacemaker – making your hope ever present in the world.  Let your hope be evident in the way I live and treat others. Fill me with the hope of Moses, Mary, the saints and Jesus himself.  In humility, grant that I may always serve you and your will.    Allow this Advent season to be transformational for me as a Vincentian, and for those whom you bring before me as children of God.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

 

Deacon Mike

2111, 2022

November 27- First Sunday of Advent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

 

November 27 – First Sunday of Advent

 

We think of Advent as a time when we prepare for the coming of God, but we are also to train our attention on our journey to God.  Paul tells us in our second reading to “awake from our sleep…to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  We are challenged in Advent to see the vision of our lives as Christians; and to look at the possibilities of life which Jesus calls us to. This is a season of preparation, a season of hope, and a season of anticipation. It is about the coming – the coming of God in the Word made flesh as Jesus comes to share in our humanness; the coming of Jesus into each of our lives on a daily basis and through the sacraments.  It is about Christ being born not only into human flesh, but also into the very fabric of each of our lives, if we will only open up and offer him the hospitality of our discipleship.  And it is about the Final Coming, when the teaching will be done – and judgment will be made.  It is the hope and the promise of this final coming of Jesus, when the fulfillment will be complete, that we anticipate during Advent; but for which we are called to spend our lifetimes preparing for.

 

“Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”  Every year we hear words similar to these.  We are warned to be ready – but are we?  Advent provides us the time to begin anew in our efforts to be transformed.  This clarion call in the gospels to ‘stay awake’ is our reminder to bring a sense of urgency to who we are and what we do.  And while we look with great anticipation to the hope of the future, we are called to invest our energies in the present.  When Jesus came to be among us, we were provided with the hope of the future, not only because of his promise to return in glory, but because of the depth of God’s love shown to us in the very act of his first coming – he loved us so much that he took on human form and walked with us even to the valley of death.  He gave us the gift of his teachings, the gift of his Spirit to be our constant companion, and the gift of himself in the Eucharist to feed us on a constant basis.  The question is, what do we do with that gift of the Eucharist?  We are called to be Eucharist to others!  We are called to do it now!  Do it with a sense of urgency! Do it with a passion for the Lord!  For tomorrow may be too late – today is the day for us to awake from our sleep!

 

During Advent, we have an opportunity to reflect upon and renew our relationship with God.  To ask ourselves, what is it that we truly love and have a passion for?  Are we willing to bring the same passion and dedication and sense of urgency to our love of God, our love of family, and our love of others, as we do to our secular desires?  In Advent, we are reminded again of all that God has given us, how deeply he loves us, and the promise and hope of the future.  If we embrace what he has offered us in his first coming with zeal and passion, the hope of tomorrow becomes a vision of joy.   We should live as though Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back at any moment!

 

As Vincentians, we are confronted with the neighbors who struggle to succeed.  Some we see with frequency and we wonder if they are really trying.  In Advent, we are reminded of the importance of mercy and continually offering our help and support to those in need.  We are called to provide them with the support and guidance to prepare for their future and to make their future a future of hope.  As God extends mercy and renewal to us, so too should we.  How do I help others to move beyond their past to new beginnings?  How do I embrace in humility, the opportunities God gives to me to be merciful to others?

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of new opportunities.   ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom.’  Shower your mercy upon me that I might grow in humility, recognizing your presence in every person you bring before me.  Give me strength to extend forgiveness, mercy and love to others.  Allow me the grace to extend to others love and mercy in the fashion you shower it upon me.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1511, 2022

November 20- Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

 

November 20 – Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

“Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.  He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  It is good to be reminded of where we have been, and to where we hope to go.  God has brought us from darkness to the light.  He has given us the very essence of the light itself – his Son, Jesus Christ.  He is above and beyond all things, he is all powerful, all loving and all merciful.  It is to him that we belong, and it is through him that we have redemption.  He is our king!

We are reminded that our King is a different kind of king.  Jesus has been a model, a teacher, a brother and a friend.  But He is most importantly our King, our Lord and our Savior.  St. Paul’s letter calls us to give thanks because God has made us inheritors of the kingdom of heaven through His mercy and sacrifice.  Jesus is a king who dies for his servants rather than one who has his servants die for him. He does not display his power but rather his mercy.  He does not ask to be served but rather offers himself in service.  He has no expectation of repayment, although he pays the ultimate price.  His interest is not in saving himself but rather saving each of us!  He is all powerful, but he shows us a different kind of power from the cross.  He humbles himself accepting the ridicule and sneers of the rulers and soldiers; accepting the humiliation of the cross.  His power is not exerted by force, but rather by inviting us to become one with him in all things on earth and in heaven.  He offers himself to us in a relationship of mercy, charity and hope that he invites us to share in relationship with others.  By accepting the cross, Jesus enters into solidarity with the poorest of the poor.  No man is beneath the reach of his love and mercy.

Each of us will one day find ourselves confronted with the cross.  We will be given the choice of accepting the life of Christ or rejecting it.  Do we seek the power of wealth, of influence, of force or do we choose the power of relationship, of mercy and of love?  One recognizes the importance of self and the other recognizes the importance of others.  The gospel poses the question to us – “who do you identify with?”   Are we like Dismis, the good thief, connecting our suffering to Jesus – turning to him and seeking his mercy?  Or are we like the bad thief, the rulers and the soldiers mocking him, questioning him, condemning him as they say “Save yourself!”

Jesus Christ is our King!  Our call is to give him the keys to our lives by imitating him in all we do.  To humble ourselves as he was humbled.  To love as he loved.  To suffer as he suffered and sacrifice as he sacrificed.  To forgive as he forgave.  To serve as he served.  To live the truth that he has given us – the truth of Jesus Christ!  When we do this, we join the good thief praying “Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”

As Vincentians, we seek a unity with Jesus through our ministry to the poor and vulnerable, recognizing that it is in relationship forged through humility, faith and compassion that Jesus is most readily found.  Like Jesus, we need to display mercy and not power.  We need to offer ourselves in service.  We need to have no expectation of thanks or repayment for that which we do.  For our service is offered in thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for us.  How do I seek to bring the mercy and compassion of Jesus to all I encounter?  How am I willing to sacrifice for others?  How do I seek God’s will in all decisions, and offer my service in humility and gratitude?

Lord Jesus, you are the King of kings!  You gave yourself that I might have salvation.  Give me the grace to offer mercy as you did.  Instill in me the charity of heart and action that others might see your presence in all I do.  Allow my service to be an offering of gratitude and praise for your great glory.  “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen     

Deacon Mike

811, 2022

November 13- Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

 

November 13 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“The day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble; and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch… But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  WOW!  As we come to the end of the liturgical year, our readings paint a picture of the end times for us.  There will be suffering, there will be judgment – but there will also be healing and redemption.  The prophet Malachi (God’s messenger) was speaking to a people about 450 before Christ.  The people of that time were rich from a material perspective, but they had taken on immoral lifestyles.  Religion had become an afterthought.  They didn’t reject God – they just didn’t pay any attention.  Sound familiar?  Our challenge is to pay attention and align our behaviors and attitudes with the truth of Jesus Christ.  We do not know the time or hour, but we do know there will be suffering and chaos.

Some would argue that the end is near.  War in the Ukraine and Putin threatening nuclear destruction, natural disasters around the country devastating lives, COVID remains an ever present threat, and our politics from both the left and the right.  Some suggest that if one side or the other wins, it will be the end.  As I write this, I have no idea the outcome of our elections.  It doesn’t matter.  I have good friends from both sides of the political spectrum in SVDP, in my church community, in my family and in circle of general friends.  No matter the outcome of this election or others, our challenge remains the same – to be witnesses for Christ by imitating both He and his faithful followers – the saints.  We must stand erect and embrace the hope of our faith.  We must work together to care for the weak, the vulnerable and the forgotten that through our witness we might bring them the hope of Christ.

Jesus reminds us that He will be with us and give us wisdom.  In our sufferings, we will find opportunity to witness and bring hope.  We are to be faithful, diligent and persistent.  We should act with the confidence of what is to come, but the wisdom and persistence to recognize and follow truth even in the face of persecution.  Our confidence comes from trust in God and a willingness to accept and embrace the crosses of those challenges which come into our lives. The readings bring out the importance of the dignity of work, both for ourselves and for others.  It is through work and perseverance that we connect to both our crosses and the hope of the future.  Our work is to care for one another, respect one another, and bring the presence of Christ to one another.

As Vincentians, we are witnesses to one another and to those whom we minister to.  Through friendship we lift one another up during times of suffering and stress.  With all that is happening in our world, we are challenged to help more and more people through difficult times.  Christ calls us to be present and give of ourselves that others might have hope.  Our objective should always be to restore dignity and hope by lifting those in need to a better place.  It takes discernment, patience and honesty (simplicity) in some instances to help our neighbors (and ourselves) to understand what is truly needed.  Do I properly discern what is most needed for those whom God brings before me?  Do I approach them in humility, with honesty and patience? Do I give testimony and witness to Christ through the way I live?

Lord Jesus, grace me with patience and perseverance that I may weather the storms in my life. Help   me to trust in your will and accept all challenges before me.  Allow me to be a faithful witness to your truth through the life I live.  Let me never become indifferent to you, but let me always give glory to your name. We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

 

Deacon Mike

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