April 28 – Divine Mercy Sunday
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is a clarion call to have faith, to believe, even in the face of serious doubts. But here is Thomas, one of those closest to Jesus, who had to ‘see’ in order to come to belief. Can you really blame him? The disciples are hidden away out of fear. Their Messiah has been crucified and now here they are telling Thomas about Jesus coming back. I fear I would have had the doubts of Thomas. Sometimes even now for us – or certainly for me – faith can be hard. When we are hurting, or suffering, or things just are not going the way I think they should, the questions creep in and our faith is tested. But notice, Jesus is patient with Thomas and does show him His wounds that he might come to see and understand – and have faith. On this, Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus is patient with us as well. He is well pleased with those who have total faith with no doubts, but is merciful to those who have doubts and continues to call us to Him in merciful love.
As Vincentians, we minister to those who are hurting and suffering in life. We look to grow in holiness by overcoming our own woundedness, fears and prejudices as we minister to others. We are the wounds of Christ that they may see His love and goodness through us and rejoice in the hope he brings them. In the strength of their faith, we are reminded of Christ’s call to us to live in faith even when it is difficult. Am I patient with those I minister to, as Christ is patient with me? Am I merciful to others as He is to me? Does their faith and woundedness help me to be strengthened in my faith and trust in God?
Lord Jesus, help me to overcome my doubts and fears, trusting always in your goodness, mercy and love. Allow me to be the wounds of your cross, which help strengthen the faith and hope of others. Help me to minister with patience and humility, always helping others to see you in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
Rejoice and be glad for this is the day the Lord has made!! This week is Holy Week. It is all about the Passion, death, AND resurrection of our Lord Jesus. That last part is most important – for without the resurrection, nothing else matters, and with the resurrection everything is possible. The passion and death on the cross make the resurrection possible. They also give meaning to the suffering we have in our lives. They connect the pain of the cross to the glory of the cross, for it is through the pain and suffering that we recognize the glory. I am saddened for those who have no faith, for their suffering then has no meaning, and the pain must be unbearable. As Catholics, we are called this week to immerse ourselves once again into the passion and suffering of Christ through our focus on the cross, that we might also join in the glory of the resurrection and our salvation – the victory of Christ over sin and death!
As Vincentians, we are called to see how our suffering and the suffering of those we minister to connect us all to the cross, which gives us the hope of the future. We are called to walk humbly in prayer and thanksgiving, rejoicing in the Lord through the way we live our lives and the way we care for others. Do I walk in humility in my ministry, reflecting the joy and hope of our Lord Jesus to all I encounter?
This week, our St. William conference lost a Vincentian – Mary Tom Clemons. Mary Tom was one of the original Vincentians when our conference starting in the early 2000’s. She served for eight years as Vice President until the fall of 2016. She has continually been one of our most faithful and compassionate home visitors. Within the church she was often affectionately referred to as “Sister Mary Tom”. She was not perfect – far from it – and she knew it. What she was though, was Vincentian through and through, even before she was a Vincentian. She has always been a woman of deep faith, a love for Christ and for the less fortunate, and had a heart far bigger then she would ever admit. She was a registered nurse spending the last 20 years of her work life working for the county health department. She knew many of those she served through SVdP through her previous work. Not unlike the rest of us, she complained about this or that, but at the end of the day, she only wanted all of those who were hurting to find help and the hope of Christ. She was never too busy to care or to help.
I suspect the vast majority of our conferences have a Mary Tom. They are a treasure because they show us the way forward in our relationship with God. They help us to see that it is not always easy, and never a straight line. They help us to understand that if we stay in prayer, walk in humility, and fix our gaze on Christ and those He brings before us, that we are on the right path. They teach us that our hope is in the Lord. Mary Tom and those like her provide us the path to follow in how we live our lives. Easter reminds us of the gift and grace God bestows upon us. Mary Tom was at peace with her destiny because she knew her destiny was unity with Christ. This week she joins Him as an honored guest at the Easter celebration. May she rest in peace at the heavenly banquet of the Lord.
Lord Jesus, grace me with humility that I might always walk in prayer, fixing my gaze squarely on you as I care for those you bring before me. Allow me to never be too busy to help those in need. Allow me to be a reflection of your light showing to all the hope and glory of your passion and resurrection. Help me to accept my sufferings with the joy of connectedness to your suffering that through your cross, I might embrace your glory. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The words reverberate in the air. They are the words of an innocent and suffering person who does not understand and has, for the moment, lost all hope as we listen to them in Psalm 22. They are the final words of our Lord Jesus, as he takes on the full weight of all our sinfulness. Jesus always looked back to the teachings of the prophets and the psalms as he instructed and informed the present and the future. For one final time, in his final cry, he points to the Psalmist’s cry – and provides an answer. I do not abandon you – I save you, offer you redemption and eternal salvation. Jesus gives meaning to the suffering each of us endures – the crosses we must come to bear. It is the ultimate trust – all must be abandoned and turned over to God – control is out of our hands – and at that moment, we come to understand the immense love and mercy of God.
As Vincentians, I suspect we have all faced painful times in our lives when we have momentarily felt abandoned and had to bear crosses that may have felt unbearable. It is precisely at these times that God walks most closely with us. At the time, it is hard to see and understand, but over time, with the help of others, we come to see God’s mercy in our suffering. We provide that support, helping to carry the cross for those we minister to. It is through our eyes that they can begin to see the hope through the darkness. Am I prepared to sacrifice, to step into service as Simon the Cyrenian did, to help others to carry their crosses? Will they see through me the presence of God in their lives? Will they feel His mercy and compassion? Am I willing to share in their suffering as Jesus accepting mine?
Lord Jesus, help me to see your face, hear your voice and feel your presence in the darkness of my despair. Help me to humbly be your presence to others as they struggle. Give me the grace to accept all circumstances you place before me – both mine and those of others – that I follow your will as you would have me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
This week we hear about the prostitute whom the Pharisees brought before Jesus. They were trying to trap him to give them reason to discredit him. Their motivation was not pure, but was driven by their pride, arrogance and envy. Jesus confronts them with truth, making them confront their own treachery. They try to use the law to establish their own righteousness. But Paul reminds us in our second reading that our righteousness comes not from the law but only from faith in Jesus. Once the Pharisees walk away, Jesus is left alone with the prostitute. He does not condemn her, but rather offers her mercy and new life by moving forward and sinning no more. Jesus has provided each of us clear guidance on how to live as well, but offer mercy to us in place of judgement when we sin. Paul tells us to walk away from the ‘rubbish’ of sin which is all loss, and to pursue maturity in Christ by following him.
As Vincentians, we are called to set aside our judgement of others as well, and to offer them mercy instead. We give guidance to them on choices that can help them to move forward, and we offer them the support we can to grasp those choices that they may find hope. We continually have to make choices about our resources available to us and how to best share those resources. We need to take care to have our choices born out of faith in Christ and guidance from the Spirit. Judgement of the ‘worthiness’ of this person or that should not be part of the consideration for all people are worthy in the eyes of Christ. Do I set my judgements aside and seek the guidance of Christ in all my interactions with those I minister to? Are prayer, humility and mercy my guideposts in ministry?
Lord Jesus, help me to set aside my judgements of others and situations. Give me the courage to stand up in mercy reaching out to others with the hope and compassion of Christ Jesus. Grace me with the humility to recognize that all I am and I do is only through the goodness and mercy of God’s love for me. Help me to use the gifts He gives to me in pursuit of perfect maturity in Christ by living only in the faith of Christ. I pray all of this in your name! Amen