Vincent’s teachings were Christ centered. Let us remember these words “When there is a question of doing some good work, say to the Son of God, “Lord, if you were in my place, how would you act on this occasion?” (CCD:XI:314).
In this spirit the international leadership of the AIC (LCUSA) offers their February reflection as part of their preparation for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of their founding by Vincent. “« Let us be enchanted by St Vincent Project » ”
REFLECTION FOR FEBRUARY:
With Christ before us, Our Vocation is to follow Christ
Text: Alicia Duhne — Translation: Father Charlie Plock
Vincent’s teachings were Christ centered. Let us remember these words, which reveal this characteristic of his teaching: When there is a question of doing some good work, say to the Son of God, “Lord, if you were in my place, how would you act on this occasion?” (CCD:XI:314).
In this reflection we want to consider our Vincentian vocation, which is focused on the following of Jesus Christ. Let us together place ourselves in the Lord’s presence.
Development of the Theme:
- Our Christian and Vincentian vocation
Our Christian vocation leads us to follow Jesus Christ. Our Vincentian vocation reaffirms that fact and also places us in the presence of those persons who are most poor.
Faith, hope and charity are to be our pillars of support.
Through faith we realize that we are children of God and also understand that all men and women share the same dignity and have the same right to live the fullness of life (and here we are not only talking about some future life, but referring to our present life here on earth).
Our awareness of the fact that we live in a world where there is inequality with regard to opportunities presents us with a great challenge. We believe that it is this challenge that motivates those of us who have accepted the invitation to travel along the path that has been marked out by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. It is also this same reality that fills us with the hope that we will be able to change the unjust situations in which we find ourselves.
The path that we must travel is obvious; indeed, it is the path of charity that will bring us closer to people (just as it brought Jesus closer to the people of his time). Jesus did not just preach; he was also concerned about “the well-being of the sheep”. Pope Francis has stated: Jesus was a man of streets … in the gospels we rarely find Jesus preaching in places of worship. Jesus liked to travel from town to town and village to village in order to meet people. Let us accept this invitation to go out to the highways and the byways in order to encounter those persons who live in situations of poverty… and then it is there that we can speak with them about God.
Our vocation has a twofold dimension since at the same time that we encounter Christ we undoubtedly encounter the poor… and when we encounter the poor we encounter Jesus Christ. Those persons who have studied the life of Vincent de Paul tell us that it was not Jesus who led him to the poor but rather that it was the poor who led him to Jesus.
We are invited to make every effort to become more and more aware of Jesus’s doctrine since this will help us to strengthen our faith and will also enable us to discover new ways in which we can live as Christians. Indeed, we must put aside our concepts of religious individualism since such concepts will lead us nowhere.
- Let us make this charity come alive in our groups
It would be good for us to reflect on how we practice this charity in our groups. At times it can appear to be easy to love those persons who are not so closely related to us and we can forget that Christ is also present in those brothers and sisters who are near to us and who often do not think or act in the same way that we do… and yet Jesus calls us to serve and collaborate with these individuals. Let us strengthen the bonds of communion among us so that when people see us they can say: Ah! They are certainly AIC volunteers!
- Promotion of the human person
Finally, I would like to highlight the fact that love should lead us to engage in the promotion of all people, so that in union with our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, we can build a more just world where there are greater opportunities to live well and to live with happiness, where there are greater opportunities to rejoice in the kingdom of God.
Personal and Community Reflection:
Let us meditate on the ways in which we can put into practice the following words of Saint Vincent:
– The two great virtues of Jesus Christ are reverence toward his Father and charity toward humankind (CCD:VI:413);
– We must strip ourselves of the old Adam in order to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ (CCD:XI:85).
Activities and Questions:
v What motivates me to be an AIC volunteer?
v Has my initial motivation changed? If so, how?
v Has your experience in AIC changed your relationship with Christ? If so, how?
Jesus, you who walk with those who are poor, we place ourselves in your presence so that you might accompany us as we live out this Vincentian vocation that you have given to us and that we have accepted. Show us the path that will enable us to encounter you in our brothers and sisters who need our assistance. Help us to strip ourselves of everything that is foreign to our vocation (our selfishness, our comfort, our attachments)… everything that can prevent us from being good Vincentians. Help us to be your true witnesses so that many people might come to know you and so that we might also build up a better and more just world. We pray in the name of Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.