Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, priest

(Zechariah 8:20-23; Luke 9:51-56)

Let’s picture ourselves living in the year 1600 when St. Vincent de Paul was ordained. Arguably the most magnificent century in all history has just ended. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. The Spanish colonized America. Martin Luther called the Church to reform. Vincent’s life story testifies to the wonder of the age. Born into a peasant’s family, he received a university education. But with all the great feats of the past century Europe and, for the most part, the world lacks true holiness. Vincent would supply this need with his attention to the poor.

In the gospel Jesus likewise surprises his disciples with a fresh idea of holiness. Going up to Jerusalem, Jesus admonishes James and John for thinking that because he is Messiah, he will use his power to destroy his offenders. No, as God’s anointed one, he will demonstrate forbearance and peacefulness to all. In the end he delivers himself to his enemies that results in the Father's establishing universal reconciliation through his death and resurrection.

Working with the poor is often frustrating and disappointing. Sometimes they do not respond as we would have it. But we must care about them because, as Vincent de Paul taught, they are God’s special friends. We can rest assured that through such work we will become His friends as well.