“I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me!” Jesus tells us this week that some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last. He tells us the gate is narrow. Getting to heaven is not as easy as simply saying you believe. Yes, we need to believe in the “Truth” of Jesus. But we also need to adopt His way and His life to follow that truth. We all can complain from time to time like the Hebrews did about how hard the life of Jesus is. Discipleship is not easy. It requires effort and persistence on our part to stay strong and keep having “drooping hands and weak knees.”
As Vincentians, our primary purpose is to develop our spirituality and holiness. We adopt a way of life that takes us to the heart of Jesus – with the poor and suffering – that we might imitate the compassion and mercy of Jesus. We seek a virtuous way of life that allows us to develop the fortitude to stay true to our Lord, living the truth in His way, following in His footsteps. Do I approach each day seeking to live as Christ did? Do I strive to grow in humility by seeking and embracing God’s will for me? Do I trust in His Divine Providence?
Lord Jesus, give me the courage and the strength to follow in your footsteps. Help me to choose the narrow gate, that I may approach the kingdom of heaven giving glory to God. Help me to embrace those in need as you did in mercy and charity. Give me the humility to trust in you and to see your presence in those you bring to us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
“I have come to set the earth on fire!…Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No I tell you, but rather division!” In case there was any doubt, Jesus makes it clear that he is here to create a new direction for humanity and it won’t be a comfortable ride. St. Paul indicates in the second reading that we look to the great cloud of witnesses – the prophets, the martyrs and all the saints – as examples and support in our endeavor to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, embracing the change to come and allowing our hearts to be set on fire. Jesus invites each of us to join in his mission of passion, love and mercy, rooting out sin and darkness, to replace them with hope and joy.
Saint Vincent is our model as Vincentians. He invites us to embrace the mission of Christ by embracing those in need, helping them to find hope in the future by making Christ present and visible to them today. St. Vincent said, “So, our vocation is to go … to set people’s hearts on fire, to do what the Son of God did. He came to set the world on fire in order to inflame it with His love.” We are both the carriers and the recipients of the flame of Christ. When we become infected by His love, we grow in holiness and share that love out broadly. Do I allow myself to embrace the passion of Christ in humility? Do I carry that fire into the world, fighting for those who are in need with zeal? Is truth and justice more important to me than being comfortable and not rocking the boat? Will I stand up for Christ as Christ stood up for me?
Lord Jesus, help me to embrace the fire of your love. Help me to be an instrument of your disruption of discrimination, prejudice and injustice in the world. Allow me to be a Voice of the Poor acting with zeal and passion. Give me the grace to submit humbly to all that you ask of me that I might be a light shining forth with your goodness and love. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
“Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Our gospel acclamation captures the warning of the message in our readings this week. Tragic events over the past weekend in El Paso and Dayton make the reality of that warning both personal and real. None of us is assured tomorrow. Our earthly life can be taken at any moment – by violence, by a tragic accident, by an act of nature or by a failure of health. Suffering and sacrifice are part and parcel of our faith. Often, like this past weekend, it is difficult for us to make sense of the suffering. It is faith that allows us to endure all that we must for God. The faith of Abraham that St. Paul describes in our second reading. A faith that believes in the hope and promise of God even when that promise is not visible to us. It is a faith born out of love and trust, girded by humility and acceptance of God’s plan, and fueled by passion and hope for the future. Faith gives us hope when all us seems to have failed.
As Vincentian’s, each day we are called to grow in holiness and as such to grow in faith. We are carriers of that faith to all we encounter including one another and those to whom we minister. Our actions and words become the evidence of God’s presence among us. More than anything, it is faith, hope and trust which we share with others through the love of Christ. Do I help others to find hope even in the darkest of times? Do my actions convey a trust in God’s plan for each of us? Does my humility convey a willingness to accept all that we are asked to endure?
Lord Jesus, help me to accept suffering as Christ accepted the suffering and pain of my sins. Give me the humility to accept your will, your plan for me and those around me even when I don’t understand, even when it hurts. Give me the trust and conviction of Abraham. Help me to grow in my faith and holiness particularly when times seem dark. Allow me to see the light of hope to carry me forward. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” How close to home does this hit for us? Our society teaches us the importance of possessions and the need to pursue them for both our desires and our ‘security.’ Both our first reading and our gospel point to the foolishness of pursuit of earthly riches. Jesus tells us in the gospel this parable of the rich fool, that our possessions and accomplishments will not benefit us on judgment day – particularly if they get in the way of doing God’s will. When we get wrapped up in our pursuit of earthly treasures, we lose sight of the heavenly ones. We spend our time preparing for our future – our retirement, when the reality is that our true focus should be on our eternal future – our salvation.
As Vincentians, we are constantly dealing with people who have no possession to speak of, and little hope of gaining many. The “Hidden Rules” of poverty teach us that people in poverty value people and relationships as their possessions. Often, faith is all they have left and growing in their relationship with God gains greater meaning. These readings seem to point to the wisdom of valuing people and relationships more than our ‘earthly possessions’ of things. When I minister to those in poverty, do I see the wisdom of valuing people, relationships and spirituality that they can teach me? Do I sometimes allow my desire for material riches to outweigh my desire for spiritual riches?
Lord Jesus, help me to keep my focus always on you. Help me to grow in the virtue of simplicity, not desiring those things which get in the way of keeping my gaze on you. Through those I minister to, allow me to see the value of spiritual riches, and relationship to you through relationships with others. Help me to never lose sight of what is truly important in life for me and for those to whom I minister. We pray all of this in your name. Amen