Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, priest
(Job 3:1-3.11-17.20-23; Luke 9:51-56)
Let’s picture life in the year 1600 when St. Vincent de Paul was ordained. Arguably the most tumultuous century in all history has just ended. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. The Spanish colonized America. Martin Luther called the Church to reform. But for all the splendor of these accomplishments Europe lacks holiness. Vincent would supply this need.
Vincent spent time as a slave and time in the royal court. He founded a congregation of men dedicated to seminary teaching. But he is best known for his dedication to the poor. He not only helped found a congregation of women to assist the poor, he attended the needs of the poor himself. Equally remarkable, he created a spirituality of the poor that touched the heart of France. In the gospel Jesus likewise surprises his disciples with a fresh idea of holiness.
Going up to Jerusalem, Jesus admonishes James and John for wanting to use power to destroy others. As God’s anointed one, he shows forbearance to all and expects the same of his followers. In the city he will allow himself to be crucified. His purpose is to win universal reconciliation through obedience to the Father’s will.
Working with the poor often demands such submission as Jesus’. They do not always respond as graciously as we think they should. But we must not give up the endeavor. We shall be all right. As Vincent taught, “Those who are resolved to depend utterly on God shall never be poor.”