Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
707, 2020

July 12- Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

July 12 – Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

“The sufferings of the present time are nothing compared to the glory to come.”  Suffering – and the picking up of the cross – are part and parcel of our human experience.  Jesus tells us repeatedly we must pick up our cross and follow him.  Paul reminds us in our second reading this week that we will suffer greatly, but our eternal reward will be infinitely greater.  Many are suffering today from the pandemic, from separation from family and friends, from the economic collapse, and from the escalating violence in the country.  Perhaps the biggest suffering though is fear – fear driven by the chaos, by a loss of hope and by a loss of connectedness – especially to our faith.  Jesus calls us to attach ourselves to His suffering – and to His Word.  For He has given us the promise of hope and salvation that we might go out spreading the Good News and overcoming the chaos and fear.  We are the handmaids of the Lord!  Many may not be able to make it to church today, but we can bring church to the many!

As Vincentians, the truth of the embracing of suffering goes even further.  Much as the fireman runs into the fire, so too we run to the suffering – the sufferings of others that we might embrace both them and their pain.   Especially today, when we may be the only promise of hope some experience in their lives. It is in that suffering that we can both see and reflect the presence of Christ.  It is there that he meets us to walk with us.  Do I work to deny or hide from suffering, or do I embrace it?  Mine and that of others?  Do I commit to be the handmaid of the Lord, especially as a servant to those who are hurting?

Father, let me willingly embrace my sufferings, connecting myself to the cross of Christ.  Allow me to accept suffering with the grace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus who knew suffering more intimately than anyone.  Help me to reach out to others, helping them to both embrace their suffering and connecting myself to their pain that they may feel the presence of Christ in the midst of their pain.    I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

3006, 2020

July 5- Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

July 5 – Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

We come into the celebration of our country’s independence this year in the midst of turmoil, confusion, pain and anger.  It can be overwhelming to take everything in.  The pandemic, the protests, statues being torn down, police brutalizing and murdering citizens, and police coming under attack – both figuratively and literally.  Patients in nursing homes unable to see family, the economy has tumbled and violence has escalated across the country.  Underlying it all is an incivility and outright hatred that dominates and drives our politics.  We have lost all sense of humility, decency, compassion for one another, and mercy and forgiveness toward one another.  And Jesus says to us,  “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”    It is a message of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness that is at odds with the ‘norms’ of society, especially today.  Jesus is the very essence of the humility we have lost and the meekness we need so desperately.  Take my yoke upon you he tells us.  His yoke is that yoke of mercy and forgiveness fueled by unconditional love.  He promises that if we do, we will have a safe landing (eternal life in heaven), but he does not promise smooth sailing for the trip.  He has taken our sins upon himself that our load under his yoke is lightened and rest comes to us.  We need to let go of our pride, our anger, our sinfulness – and embrace His mercy, His humility, His meekness.

As Vincentians, we are seeing so many neighbors who are also confronted by turmoil and fear in their lives.  Sometimes they are burdened by unjust laws and economic systems.  Sometimes they are burdened by judgements of their decisions and discrimination in all forms.  Sometimes they are burdened by their own mistakes, lack of confidence and self-esteem, and lack of a support system. For some, it is the chaos of the pandemic bringing them strife. The question is, how do we lighten their load?  Do we offer to them a yoke of mercy, compassion and forgiveness to overcome the rigidity of expectations?  Do we offer them a better way that they might learn from us while we walk with them and give them rest?  Do we come to them in humility and Christian love?

We give praise to you Father, lord of heaven and earth.  Just as your son took upon himself the burden of our sins and transgressions, without question or hesitation, allow us to lighten the load of those whom you bring to us.  Let us always offer them first your son Jesus that they may come to know the source of all love and mercy.  As he has offered his yoke to us – a yoke of love compassion, mercy and forgiveness – let us find the courage to offer the same to others.  Let us find ways to bring them hope by walking with them as we seek relief for them both from unjust systems as well as burdensome circumstances. Help us to humbly remember that you have everything we need to make us safe and unafraid.  I come to you with my burdens.  Help us to take up your yoke and share what you have asked of us – caring for others.     I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

2306, 2020

June 28- Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

June 28 – Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

Our readings this week speak to the requirements and challenges of discipleship.  But they also highlight an important aspect of discipleship – hospitality.  Hospitality is all about encountering the presence of God in others, seeing that presence and accepting it for what it is.  Often, this encounter comes when we least expect it. Hospitality was one of the great virtues of the Bible.  The ancients believed that each person should be welcomed as though one were welcoming God himself.  Jesus moves this virtue into Christian times in today’s Gospel when he says, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

The virtue of hospitality is the virtue of recognizing the presence of God in others and nourishing this presence.  When we practice this virtue, then the stranger among us is no longer a stranger, but a member of the family, welcome, like Elisha, to enjoy a room in our house.  Often we miss the presence of God in others because we decide what this presence should be like.  We are challenged in discipleship to let God be God and let God express himself in others, even if this expression is new or even foreign to us. During these challenging times of social distancing, quarantines and physical detachment, seeking the presence of God – and extending His hospitality is both more difficult and more important than ever.

As Vincentians, those we minister to open their hearts and lives to us Inherent in this on their part is a trust that we are people of God and people who truly care. In home visits, they could look us in the eyes and see who we are – hopefully people of God.  Without the home visit, it is important for us to find new and creative ways to convey our hospitality to them as they open themselves to us.  We must find ways to make God’s presence ever apparent in our interactions with them.   Do we go to them in a spirit of hospitality opening our hearts and minds to the fears, the challenges and the presence of God within them? Do we have fixed in our minds what the presence of God should be like, or do we allow His presence to touch, shape and mold our hearts?

God, open my mind and my heart to your presence in all those I meet.  Help me to set aside my anxieties and my preconceived notions of who and where you are that I might see you clearly in those before me.  Grant that I may grow in the virtue of hospitality receiving all whom I encounter in true love and warmth.  Give me the grace to make your presence visible through my actions, my words and my presence even when not physically close.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1606, 2020

June 21-Twelfth Sunday Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

June 21 – Twelfth Sunday Ordinary Time

 

With Easter and the host of high feast days that follow it completed, we now settle into ordinary time.  These days feel like anything but ordinary though.  Between the pandemic, economic hardships, and the tensions throughout the country and the world that are all contributing to greater distancing – intended and unintended – it is easy to feel isolated and afraid.  Our first reading says it well, “I hear the whisperings of many: terror on every side!”  Our Lord answers though saying Fear no one!…do not be afraid!”  His meaning is deeper though.  It is about Fear of the Lord or trust in God.  We should not fear earthly threats or concerns for God is on our side.   We need only fear, truly fear, when we turn from God.  Hardship, persecution and suffering will come to us, but through our suffering, with God at our side, we will find truth and hope.

As Vincentians, during these difficult times for so many who are suffering, we need to stand with them as God stands with us.  Even more, we need to help them to see the presence of God in their lives and to trust in Him, for “the Lord hears the poor.”  To one another – Vincentians and neighbors in need – let us stand in trust and witness to God’s enduring love and care for us.  Do I accept and understand that through suffering will come the victory, the love and the hope of Christ?  Do I trust in God’s Divine Providence; His will for me and those I minister to?  Do I testify to God’s faithfulness even when all seems lost?

God, help me to overcome my fears in the face of all obstacles, trusting always in your care.  Allow me to remain a faithful witness in testimony to your great love for us.  Give me the persistence and desire to ever more deeply understand and know your will for our lives.  Help me especially to walk in the pathway of Jesus as I deal with the issues of poverty and suffering.  Give me the courage to remain faithful to your will in the face of adversity and prejudice. Allow me to advocate with zeal for those who are in need.    I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike