Vincentians Care – Vincentians Bring Mercy – Forgiveness is Power – Vincentians Validated by God
Vincentian Day of Prayer and Fast – Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Vincentians Care – Identifying the least among us and reaching out to them is a good Lenten exercise. As Vincentians we care. Jesus cares and He calls us to serve in His stead. We are the arms legs and hearts of Jesus. We often are the only Jesus our friends have and they need us. This is why we are called on to pray. When making difficult decisions we must always have prayer. We are not doing our work, but God’s work. It is something we do all the time, but during Lent and during this Jubilee Year of Mercy we are more aware as we examine our service and shortcomings. Those whom Jesus places before us feel very much alone and insignificant. I am no longer a President at any level, but when I was I often halted discussions during the meeting to pray. We need God more than anything in our decision making. When have you felt alone and insignificant? Perhaps you’ve faced a condemning crowd. Then again, have you ever treated others as if they’re not important? Yes, none of us can cast the first stone. (Matt. 25) “The least of these.” The recipient of Christ’s compassion in this story was considered to be unworthy of life itself. She was first of all a woman, which in her society meant she was inferior to men. She was a sinner and deserved punishment. She was one single person facing a condemning crowd alone. How much more of a “least” one could anyone be? When called to serve we made a commitment identifying the least among us and reaching out to them is a good Lenten exercise — but only if the intention is to make it a year-round habit. We are year round servants and we care as Jesus cares.
Vincentians Bring Mercy – We need to allow God’s mercy to heal you first. So often we are too busy helping and trying to heal others, we forget about ourselves. It is much easier to give mercy when we have it within us. Don’t ever be too busy to stop and allow God’s Mercy in you. It will be worth it for you and those you serve. We also know and certainly practice during Lent, forgiveness. It is one of the most difficult things to do. Learn to make it easy. When we accomplish this we will feel the freedom God intends for us. Take this new feeling to serve our friends, because we know, we sometimes have to forgive them as well. We also know the words of St. Vincent and if we don’t we should. “You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting master you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them.” I studied this quote long and hard when I first saw it years ago. It is this quote which let me know what service to the poor was and I pray before my visit they with love me and forgive me. This can only be accomplished with God’s Mercy. You will feel the change if you don’t have it already. Let God’s Mercy in.
Forgiveness is Power –I think I’ve told you before that I tried to teach my kids and grandkids to say “I forgive you!” and to ask, “Will you forgive me?” It is much more meaningful than “Sorry” and “Okay!” A few years back one of my co-worker’s got very angry at me. He was very much in the wrong. He was not happy with me and threatened me. Like the two criminals on either side of Jesus, our choice is between what we want and what is needed, between the will of our own desires and the will of God. To follow Christ means a willingness to surrender all, even to the point of losing one’s life for God’s sake. I knew I had to put it into practice what I preached with my co-worker. What I became was to be so very angry. He tried to ban me from being involved. I soon realized I had to not only forgive him, but ask for forgiveness. I walked straight up to him and look him in the eye and said, “I am so sorry, will you forgive me?” I then said, “I forgive you!” I know he appreciated my words, but still has never spoken to me. We always have to try. We cannot do it alone. There are times when we disagree, but our ultimate goal is to serve God in the poor. It is not about us and we can never do this alone. Often we hold onto judgments of others and the hurts of ourselves, and become consumed with unforgiveness. We have to ask God for forgiveness and healing. Let us come to the Lord with humble hearts and accept His overwhelming gift of mercy to heal our wounds of hurt and pain so we may forgive others and serve those in need as God has called us.
Vincentians Validated by God – In God there is no shame; He has erased our guilt with Christ’s blood on the cross. This is the most wonderful gift we have been given. The next one is, He called us to be disciples of the Son and to listen to Him. He called us to love and serve His poor and He validated us to do so. We are called to serve the Son in everyone who is in need. No one can validate us like God can. He alone knows what’s in our hearts. He alone loves us completely, no matter what we do. In Him there is no shame; He has erased our guilt with Christ’s blood on the cross. When we grasp the fidelity of God’s mercy, we are freed from the self-protective need to be validated by people. We serve and protect those in need. We stand on guard for the underdog and are criticized by many for doing so, but we feel joy because we are validated by God. Is there a better gift? We don’t need to hunger for the affirmation of others. God is all that should matter. Keep your smile wide with joy when you enter the house of those in need or when you enter the prison to comfort the prisoner or visit the sick. Make the visit special. Become a friend who really cares for the person before you and listen to them. They matter. You are serving Jesus in each person. He is the reason to serve and He deserves all we can give especially the smile and acceptance as one of God’s children. We are not the judge of them, God validates. Pray always, we need to be aware of God’s mercy so we can live in freedom, bringing His love to those He places before us. Know you are validated by God and bring His best to others.