Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
112, 2020

December 6- Second Sunday of Advent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

December 6 – Second Sunday of Advent

Advent is a season of hope!  This week our first reading from Isaiah comes from the ‘Book of Consolation’ and tells the story of God’s people who have been taken into captivity, their temple has been destroyed and everything that was important to them seemed to have been taken away.  Into this darkness, this sadness and despair comes the voice of the prophet with a message of comfort and hope.  This is the irony of hope.  It most often is born out of despair and suffering.  When all else is lost; when no answers can be found; hope remains as our salvation and the answer to the aspiration to happiness which God places in each of us.  It is the response to our Faith, trust in the Divine Providence and Plan of God, and to the Promise of our Lord Jesus, who comes to a world wrapped in darkness, as a tiny baby to take on our suffering and pain that we might be delivered to His care for all eternity.  As we suffer today through the pandemic which afflicts us, the moral decay which envelops us, and the self-indulgences and pride which blind us, God calls us to the humility of those Israelites to which the prophet spoke in the first reading.   They did not know how hope would be delivered to them, but they knew and trusted that it would.  We do not understand or know the answers for today, but we are reminded each year during Advent – and in a particular way this Advent – that God has our backs, that He will provide and care for us!  We must be patient and persevere.  St. Teresa of Avila said “Hope, O my soul, hope.  You know neither the day nor the hour.  Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain.”  Know with certainty that our answers and our hope are in God, for He is in control.

As Vincentians, we so often face difficult decisions – choices where we do not know what is best.  As holds on evictions are lifted, and as more and more struggle to find their own answers, we will face many difficult times and decisions over the coming months of how to help those who are suffering.  Now more than ever, we need to turn to God the Spirit and humbly seek His counsel and wisdom in prayer.  We need to ask forgiveness and mercy for those who we simply are not able to help.   We need to seek patience and trust that God will ultimately deliver each of us – both ourselves and those we minister to – from the pain and suffering we confront.  We need to embrace the joy and hope of a little baby boy who embraces each of us in His loving arms, placing our trust in Him!  Do I trust God?  Do I embrace His hope and share it widely?  Will I accept where He leads me and those I walk with?

Father, give me comfort and give me hope!  I come to you in prayer humbly asking for patience, for acceptance and for courage to remain faithful to you in all that I do.  Help me to trust in your Plan!  Help me to trust in your mercy!  Help me to trust in your love!  Let my faith be strong that even when I do not understand, I accept, knowing with certainty that you will care for each of us.   I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

2411, 2020

November 29- First Sunday of Advent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

November 29 – First Sunday of Advent

The pandemic, economic upheaval, social unrest, political discord and hatred, and the seemingly downward spiral of the moral fabric of our country!  I for one am glad to see 2020 coming to an end!  As we approach this Thanksgiving, it can be hard to see what we have to be thankful for – and yet when we look closer, we realize God has blessed us abundantly in so many ways – and we have EVERYTHING to be thankful for!  We cry out “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”  God is fully aware of our challenges, obstacles and missteps.  And so we begin a new liturgical year with anticipation of the birth of a newborn.  He comes as a little baby, innocent and without judgement.  He comes to meet us, not so much so that he can get to know us, but so that we might come to know Him.  He came, not for his convenience, but for ours.  He spends his first thirty years learning about us, listening to us and walking among us.  The next three he uses to invite us to ‘come and see’, teach us, to guide us and to challenge us – but never to force us. He offers us mercy, compassion, friendship and hope.  In the end, he sacrifices and suffers for us, giving everything he has, not dependent on our response in the moment, but in anticipation of the hope which tomorrow offers.

As a Vincentian, it strikes me that this is perhaps the most impressive home visit of all time.  Home visits are at the core of being a Vincentian AND a Christian.   This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we have faced this year – the loss of the true home visit.  We have had to find new ways to connect with those we minister to.  It is in the home visit that we become known to our neighbor, begin to build trust and relationship, and that the doors of hope are swung wide.   It is also in the home visit that we most readily come to see the presence of Christ – see His face – in our neighbor.  God goes to any length to invite us into relationship and we must likewise find new ways to connect with our neighbors in friendship and trust – in new style home visits!  We should not fear this challenge, but embrace it and our neighbors as God embraces us – in love, mercy and compassion bringing the gift of new opportunities for today and hope for tomorrow.  How do I approach the new ‘home visit’? Do I come first to hear their story and to know them? Do I work to establish relationship or simply ‘gather the facts?’  Do I find new ways to offer opportunity, friendship, compassion and hope?

Father, give me the courage to embrace the new realities of building relationship and trust.  Do not let me wander from your ways or allow my heart to become hardened!  Rather, let me be your presence that I might make a difference.  Let me come humbly before those in need, offering myself in friendship and as a companion on the journey.  Let me bring the truth of simplicity laced with gentleness, patience and selflessness.  Let me offer a passionate love for those we encounter that they may feel your embrace. Father, I give myself humbly and completely to you in Thanksgiving for all that you have given to me! During these turbulent times I pray “show us Lord your love; and grant us your salvation!”  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1711, 2020

November 22 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

November 22 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

In our gospel this week, Jesus addresses that ultimate question – what separates those who go to heaven from those who don’t?  His message is clear and perhaps not quite what some would expect.  It is about how we care for others that matters most.  His call to us though is deeper than simply a call to charity toward others.  Equally important to the service we offer is the attitude and passion that we come to that service with.  “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  It is Christ Himself we serve every time we serve the vulnerable.  We are reminded earlier in Matthew that “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” He taught his disciples to do the same; not to rule over others, but to be their servants.  Jesus calls us to have an attitude of humility, not setting ourselves above others.  We offer service as to a brother.  We are reminded in the first reading to have a passion not just to serve, but to rescue, to find the lost, to bind up the injured, and to heal the sick.  We are to treat those we encounter as our brother Christ himself – with honor, with trust and with love.

These months of the pandemic have highlighted the desperate need of the poor, and those newly impoverished by loss of jobs, businesses and medical bills. Jesus directs us Christians today, even if our resources are limited, to open our hearts wide in prayer, humility and service.

As Vincentians, seeking holiness to bring us closer to God. The readings today speak to the very core of our mission.  We are called in total humility to minister to all those Christ brings before us.  We are called to do more than provide charity – we are called to enter into relationship and friendship.  We are called to embrace their sufferings as our sufferings, welcoming them into our lives as our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are called to see Christ Himself – someone to be honored, trusted and served.  Doing so makes us imitators of Christ, following what he taught us.  Do I reach out in charity only when it is convenient, or in every instance God places before me?  Am I aware of those who are hurting around me, offering to them the presence of Christ?    Do I offer charity or relationship and friendship?  Do I see Christ standing before me?

Father, grace me with the gift of awareness, that I may recognize when someone is in need.  Help me to never pass an opportunity to be your presence to another, even when it is inconvenient.  Let me serve in humility recognizing with thanksgiving that all I have comes from you that I might freely share my gifts with others. Help me to embrace others as your very presence before me in humility, trust and service.   Let me never hesitate to answer the knock on the door, that I may never miss seeing and serving you.   I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1011, 2020

November 19- Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

 

November 19 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Through our Baptism God gives to each of us a share in His kingdom and graces us with gifts to share in bringing that kingdom forward.  Some choose to use the gifts given them to enhance and shed light on God’s glory.  Others choose to just get by – or to hold their gifts to share for another time – when they have time.  The problem is, we don’t know what time it is!  Paul warns us though that our Lord is much more concerned with what we are doing with the gifts we have been given than with what time it is.  We are to be like the ‘worthy wife’ working with a passion to protect our relationship to God.  She is industrious, charitable and prayerful.  But she goes beyond the basics of her family because she has a dedication to the Lord.  She extends herself to the poor and represents truly virtuous work. We the Church, are the bride of Christ – the worthy wife.

 

Our gospel tells us that work is a part of our service to the Lord.  But work that reaches for its full potential.  Our work is an important aspect of our response to God’s offer of grace and salvation to us.  When we respond with virtuous work, we find ourselves living in consistency with our faith life.  Paul tells us that living in light – living in faith – is how preparation for the end time impacts our life right now.  For we recognize that Christ is in our midst now, in the heart and soul of each believer – in the worth and dignity of each human being.  Every human encounter we experience is an opportunity to experience Christ.  We are graced by His presence, prepared by His presence, and live in His presence.

 

As Vincentians, we extend ourselves to the poor daily that we might have those intimate encounters with Christ.  It is virtuous work that we do when we do it with charity, prayerfully, extending ourselves to the fullness of our potential given to us by Christ’s presence.  God has called us to be trusted servants using our talents to serve one another and His kingdom as good stewards of His grace.  He looks for us to do so with trust in Him and passion for His people.   Do I take the gifts God graces me with and share them fully, using them to encounter Him ever more deeply in the poor?  Am I willing to extend myself for others as Christ extended himself for me?

 

Father, give me the courage to love as you loved.  Allow me to use all the gifts you have given to me, humbly realizing that they are your gifts given freely that I might encounter you through their use. Grace me with the ability to trust in your Providence as I minister in your name.  Help me to engage fully with others, prayerfully considering how to extend fully in charity and love.  Let me see your face that I may know your love.   I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

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