Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
2002, 2024

February 25 – Second Sunday in Lent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

Most of us have been confronted by struggles and challenges in our lives that have been overwhelming.  Often our faith – our trust in God – is tested by those events which make no sense to us.  The pandemic with its rules of isolation, masking and social distancing was a test of our collective patience.  Nearly every person was affected in some way.  Freedoms were taken away, many lost jobs and financial security and worst of all – many lost loved ones.  Even today, we continue to be haunted by the scourge of COVID.  The sharp divisions on so many issues threaten the very fabric of our society.  Secularism and moral relativism threaten the Truth of Jesus Christ.  WE HAVE BEEN TESTED!  We have had to sacrifice!  And in many ways it has made no sense.  

“God put Abraham to the test.”  Our first reading recalls the instruction of God to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Abraham knew what God had promised him and the importance of Isaac to the fulfillment of that promise.  Even so, Abraham, without hesitation or question, followed God’s will obediently because he had total trust in God’s promise, even as it appeared God was breaking the covenant.  Abraham did not think about the sacrifice or question God, but rather against every human sentiment and a seemingly irrational demand on God’s part, Abraham trusted and believed that God knew what he was doing.  Abraham’s response leads him to a deeper relationship with God.  God rewarded him and spared Isaac.  

Our second reading reminds us that God did not spare his own son, so that we might be spared the loss of eternal salvation.  It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to us from the beginning of all time.  How can we possibly doubt a God who goes to such lengths for us?  There is no obstacle too great for him to overcome in delivering his hope and salvation to us if we will but believe and trust in him.  

The hope which the Transfiguration offers to us is the encouragement we need to weather the storms of our lives. In the Transfiguration, in our graced moments with God, we are reminded to see beyond the suffering and recognize the final prize.  It is our heart and our soul that lead the way.  Through these times we give our full attention to God, just as the disciples did on Mt Tabor.  In these graced moments we become fully engaged with God.  We are given a peek past the passion, the pain, to the glory of Easter.  As we journey it is important for us to have those moments to remind us that while we do not know where our journey is taking us, we know who is along for the ride. God is in control!

As Vincentians, we need to sometimes help those to whom we minister to understand that there is hope for the future.  This is the greatest gift we give to them – not food, or rent or utilities or gas – but hope and presence.  The sacrifices they are confronted with often make no sense to them.  They are tested and see no way forward.  We are called to give them belief and trust that God has a plan for each of us, and he will deliver us from harm.  We must seek God’s will through prayer and discernment, that we might patiently help to open their eyes to God’s will, His plan and His hope for them.  Do I trust completely in God?  Do I submit in total obedience, even when I do not understand?  Do I believe even “when I am greatly afflicted” and respond “Here I am!” when He calls us?  Am I ready, open and willing to allow God to use my presence to help others to see His hope?  Do I make myself available to the Spirit – or do I simply take him along for the ride?

Lord Jesus, allow me to work humbly as your servant, being open to whatever you ask of me.  Give me the courage, the trust, and the strength of Abraham in accepting and following your will.  Enable me to show your love through my words and actions.  Give me patience to listen for your direction – and then to act upon it.  Shine your light through me that others might see.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1302, 2024

February 18 – First Sunday in Lent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

We enter into Lent.  Each Lent we are afforded the unique opportunity to join Jesus in the desert.  It is a time for renewal – a time to change behaviors – a time to correct course.   It is a time to reflect on our sins – to really reflect upon those obstacles in our lives that keep us from fully committing to Christ.  Through fasting and abstinence we cleanse ourselves. It changes our routine and brings us more focus.   By spending time contemplating God, reflecting upon Jesus, and renewing the commitments we made in baptism; we prepare ourselves to make choices of the soul, rather than choices of convenience.  We owe it to ourselves to do this. We need to confront the demons within us, the sins that get hidden below the surface.  We need to see sin in its true aspect, and see who Christ is for us.

Our Psalm reminds us that “your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.”  Jesus shows us how to confront our demons and the temptations of Satan in our lives.  Satan tries to trick us by offering choices that appear appealing to us, just as he did to both Adam and to Jesus.  The way of Jesus though is to enter fully into prayer keeping His focus always on the Father’s will.  In humility, He came to us, in humility He loves us and takes our sins upon himself, and in humility He bows to the Father and rejects Satan.  We are invited to “Repent and believe in the gospel (Jesus)!”

As Vincentians, Lent also affords us the opportunity to reflect upon our attitudes, motivations and interactions with those we serve.  It is easy for us to lose sight of our purpose (grow in holiness) and our means (by seeking the face of Christ in those we serve).  We can become jaded by our work, and it is important to on occasion take a step back, look at our relationship with God, the promises we made in Baptism, and how we bring those two things into one.

Just as Jesus invited us into the desert with him to reflect upon the decisions we have made in life, we have an opportunity to journey with others as they address the challenges and demons in their lives. We can show them the love and mercy of God through our actions, and help them to seek His will for their lives that they too may come to “believe in the gospel!”  Do I have right attitudes when dealing with those in need?  Am I seeking and finding the presence of God in them?  Do I listen for and to the will of God in all that I do?  Do I help others to see God’s will for their lives through humility and prayer?

Lord Jesus, allow me to journey to the dessert with you.  Help me to correct attitudes that are not helpful to filling up with your love.  Fill me with humility, selflessness, patience, and gentleness as I do your work.  Give me passion that I may bring your presence to others at the same time I find it in them.   We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

602, 2024

February 11 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

In our gospel this week Jesus shows tremendous mercy and compassion to the man with leprosy who comes to him to be healed.  During that time, it was unthinkable to touch a person with leprosy for it would make you ‘unclean’ as well.  A person with leprosy was alienated and forgotten by society.  Jesus did not just heal him – he paid attention to him, he showed great mercy toward him and he touched him.  That was unthinkable during that time.  Jesus wasn’t concerned with ‘accepted norms’ or ‘rules of behavior’ though; he was much more concerned with human suffering and bringing about healing in whatever way necessary.  He recognized the great courage (faith) it took for this man to approach him, place himself at his feet and ask for healing.  He saw the great suffering – emotionally, physically and spiritually – that this man was experiencing and he responded without hesitation.  He offered new life and new hope to replace the man’s shame and brokenness.

This is a challenge in our society as well.  The pandemic and COVID led us as a society to isolate people from one another.  We may have had good reason for the actions taken, but the effects were still the same.  People felt alone and disconnected from community.  People who become seriously ill can feel this isolation as well.  In isolation, it becomes easy to lose hope.  Jesus calls us to reach out to those who are alone and isolated – for whatever reason – and lift them up through our presence and friendship.  It is the presence of Christ himself that we are challenged to make evident.

As Vincentians, we are confronted daily by people who feel socially alienated because of their poverty, decisions they have made and life challenges they have.  More than ever, we are seeing neighbors with needs well beyond what we have experienced before. Do we recognize the courage and trust it takes for them to reach out to us for help?   When we are challenged by these difficult situations, do we look only to do what is expected and the norm?  Or do we extend ourselves – and invest ourselves – in new and different ways to provide help that brings relief and hope?  Do we connect ourselves emotionally to our neighbor in need seeking relief for them as we would for a brother and sister – for indeed they are!

Lord Jesus, help me to emotionally embrace my neighbor in need, seeking relief for their suffering as I would for a brother or sister – for indeed they are.  Let me recognize in them the alienation they may feel because of their circumstances in life.  Give me the courage to reach out to them with compassion and mercy.  Grace me with the ability and willingness to move beyond the challenges to help, finding ways to move them forward even as it stretches me.  Grace me with humility, trusting in you for the wisdom and persistence to find relief and hope for those I serve.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

3001, 2024

February 4 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

I think we can all relate to “the months of misery and troubled nights which have been allotted to me” that Job speaks to in our first reading.  We are reminded this week not so much about suffering (although we have had our fair share), but rather how God uses our suffering and where it leads to.  Suffering causes chaos and stress, it challenges us with pain to which we have no answers.  We have a choice – we can allow it to consume us like fire, destroying our very souls; or we can fix our eyes on Jesus letting him lift us out of our despair into the light of hope!  For it is Jesus alone who “heals the brokenhearted!”   Jesus calls us from our suffering that we might go out and heal the world.

Each of us is called – and many of us are called through our suffering – to the mission of Jesus Christ – the salvation of the world through the healing of one another.  It is our mission – or as St. Paul says – “our obligation” to respond to our call with no expectation of something in return.  For the work we do is God’s work and not our own.  We respond, not for ourselves but “for the sake of the gospel, that we too may have a share in it.”

This is our mission – our purpose.  We are to join our suffering to that of Christ, and with eyes firmly fixed on Him, lift one another out of the pain and into the hope and the glory.  Jesus carries out this mission, in union with the Father, going first and always to Him in prayer.  If Jesus does this, how much more important for us?  For through prayer, we connect ourselves firmly to God’s mission for us, making sure it is His will and not ours we satisfy.      

As Vincentians, our mission is to first grow in holiness.  We do this by going as Jesus did in the gospel to minister to the sick and suffering in person to person service.   More and more we can get overwhelmed by the numbers and the need.  But we have an obligation to suffer through in persistence remember always that our purpose is to bring glory to God responding to His call in our lives with no expectation of repayment.  Our repayment is a share in the gospel and the joy of others!  In prayer we turn to God with our suffering letting Him lift us as we lift others into the one Body of Christ. Do I always remember that I am totally dependent on God as I minister to His people?  Do I turn to him in continual prayer?  Do I join my suffering to that of Christ?  Am I the face of hope, reaching out always to “touch and heal” those whom I am called to minister to?

Lord Jesus, help me embrace my suffering, linking it to yours, and accepting the growth it calls me to.  Lift me from despair that I might do likewise for others.  Give me the courage to accept your call.  Lead me always to prayer to discern your call.  Give me the humility to accept and understand your will for myself and others.  Grace me that I may be a servant of love and hope.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

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