A Vincentian View: The Lord Hears
A number of phrases in the Scriptures of the past weeks have stayed in the front of my mind. I have felt the truth of these words and the considerable summons which they offer. From one hearing, they bring consolation and encouragement. From another, challenge and warning.
One of the readings emerges from the words of Jesus in Luke 12:48:
“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
The larger passage deals with the issue of the master’s return and the servant who is given responsibility for the other servants until that arrival. Blessed is the one who accepts his/her gifts and then carries out his/her tasks humbly! Woe to the one who becomes self-centered and self-serving! And even greater woe to the one who can and should know better. The teaching of “ignorance is bliss” seems to have some hold. We can discern the burden assumed by reflecting upon the Scripture, by studying the ways of St. Vincent, and by reading the newspaper. Preaching about the way in which we live places pressure upon me and upon all of us who tune in with attentiveness. The Lord listens to his people as well.
The other passage comes from the Book of Exodus (22). One phrase shows up twice. The Lord God is speaking to the People of Israel and reminding them of how graciously and gently he had treated them when they were oppressed and cried out to him. The event at the burning bush rests in the background:
“But the LORD said: I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry against their taskmasters, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them.” (Ex 3:7-8)
Now, in the later passage, the Lord tells his people that when the alien, widow, orphan and poor neighbor cry out to him, he shall not be deaf:
“If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry. . . .
If he cries out to me,
I will hear him;
for I am compassionate.”
One is reminded of the refrain from Psalm 34 which echoes often in Vincentian circles:
“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Blessed be the Lord.”
From the point of view of our Family, we draw consolation from the knowledge that the Lord pays attention to those who are needy; yet, we can be sobered by the belief that the Lord will deal with those who are responsible for these wounds and with those who do nothing.
It is painful to imagine how often those who are poor in our world cry out to the Lord in their hunger, their homelessness, their loneliness. The Lord hears them in their distress and assures a day of reckoning. Our heritage repeatedly summons us to be listeners as well as doers. That challenge brings the grace and the burden which stay in my mind and confront my Vincentian heart.