Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
103, 2021

March 7- Third Sunday in Lent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

March 7 – Third Sunday in Lent

“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified!”  “What sign can you show us for doing this?”  Sometimes we don’t see that which is right before us – we look for something greater.  Jesus is getting closer to his Passion and generating greater angst with religious leaders as he does.  They don’t like what he says and does, and so they question where his authority comes from.  Show us a sign they say.  Even after his Passion, St. Paul points out in the second reading that the Jews look for the signs and the Greeks wisdom, but they all look right past the greatest sign of all – the death and resurrection of Jesus – and his very presence in the Eucharist he gave us.  Jesus gave them signs all along as well – from the Wedding Feast at Cana, to the multiplication stories, to the Last Supper where he instituted the Eucharist, to his Resurrection and finally on the road to Emmaus.  He fortifies us with his very person in the Eucharist – the greatest blessing and miracle ever given us.  During the pandemic, we have found ourselves overwhelmed at times by all the events of the world.  We can question where God is.  We want to be careful not to be like the Jews, looking right past what God has blest us with – looking for something more.  It is now more than ever when we need to seek out that which is right before us – the nourishment of the Eucharist in our lives.  It is in Holy Communion, Adoration and prayer that we find the answers – the signs – that we need from our Lord.

As Vincentians, we are challenged more than we have ever been to provide needed assistance.  Those we serve are often looking to us for answers that we might not readily have.  To sustain ourselves through this time we need to always remember that it is through the Lord – whom we receive in Holy Communion – that we find our strength, our hope and our answers.  With Him we can serve true and lasting hope.  Without Him, we are helpless and hopeless.  Do I recognize the power and hope of Jesus Christ through Holy Communion, or do I look for greater signs as the Jews did?  Do I spend time in Adoration and prayer?  Do I help others to recognize the blessings and opportunities that God provides in their lives?  Do I let my soul rest in Christ that He might rest in me?

Lord Jesus, you are my strength and the source of all goodness.  Help me to recognize and embrace your presence, your will and your direction in all things.  Allow me to humbly seek answers from you and through you that I may honor and glorify you.  Help me to pray always; “Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me.  Passion of Christ, strengthen me.  O Good Jesus, hear me.  Within your wounds hide me.  Permit me not to be separated from you.  From the wicked foe, defend me.  At the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to you That with your saints I may praise you For ever and ever.”  Amen

Deacon Mike

2302, 2021

February 28- Second Sunday in Lent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

February 28 – Second Sunday in Lent

This past year has been trying to our patience at best – and has destroyed the faith and hope of some at worst.  Nearly every person has been affected in some way over the year.  We have been tested by the need for isolation, forced to wear masks, socially distance, and give up many of the conveniences we had taken for granted.  Freedoms have been taken from us.  Many lost jobs and financial security.   Even worse, many lost loved ones to the pandemic.  We have even had to do without our God through reception of the Eucharist, celebration of the liturgy, and gathering with fellow Christians.   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 or our lives.

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

1602, 2021

February 21- First Sunday in Lent

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

February 21 – First Sunday in Lent

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

902, 2021

February 14- Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

February 14 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.

As Vincentians, we are confronted daily by people who feel socially alienated because of their poverty, decisions they have made and life challenged 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

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