Tired, but Faithful and Loyal

by | Feb 23, 2018 | Formation, Reflections

We have started Lent and I have asked myself why Jesus, the Son of Mary and second Person of the Trinity, accepted the passion, crucified death and the resurrection. The answer seemed simple: for being faithful to his mission decreed in eternity. Before dying he said it himself: “Father, remove this cup from me, but do not do my will, but yours.” So I have meditated on this.

Fidelity to the vocation

Those of us who have faith believe that every person who comes to life brings the goal of giving glory to God and extending his Kingdom among men. But we also say that each one has to achieve this goal in a different way, according to his personality and the family and social situations that surround his life. It is what we call vocation. Fidelity is, first of all, to remain faithful to your vocation. A Vincentian must accommodate his life to the vocation to help the poor that the Holy Spirit inspires.

When choosing a concrete form of life, we must bear in mind Jesus’ invitation to follow him and to continue his mission. The invitation is clear, but generic: “Whoever wants to follow me.” Now, the response to the divine call can not be a disembodied response; the response that each one gives is conditioned by a series of personal, family and social circumstances. The will of God is not clearly manifested and human beings can be left doubtful as to what his path is specifically. God respects the freedom of man and accepts as his will the answer he gives, whatever he is, single, married, priest, religious, if he gives it of good will and according to reason, knowing what he is committed to and decided to fulfill your obligations.

Faith is not simply a good and firm assent that God exists; it is, in addition, a commitment, a surrender to a way of life, over individual feelings. And since we know that the salvation of the poor is primordial for the glory of God and the extension of his Kingdom, we say that every vocation must concern itself with the welfare of the poor. Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Louise de Marillac and Blessed Frederic Ozanam — this last with seven companions — come to say that having faith means considering the poor as brothers and helping them in their needs.

Throughout life, Vincentians work alongside other people, but feel they belong to the same institution. When we say that we “belong” to such an institution, we want to express that we have been linked to a specific group of people who do the same service to the poor and we must be faithful to the group and to the poor who have entrusted us.

Loyalty is a hard value to find in our society. We see it every day in those people who leave their job for a better paid job, with better conditions or with a higher job category. We see it among politicians who change their ideology and party because it brings them more benefits.

It is said that during the French Revolution a crowd assaulted the house of the Vincentian fathers and upon entering the church they found the tomb of St. Vincent de Paul. Remembering the saint who had fought so hard for the poor, the crowd uncovered his head, knelt and took the coffin on his shoulders, accompanied him in silence to a neighboring house with all respect. Then they returned and ransacked the house and the Church. Those poor people had the feeling that St. Vincent considered them human beings, children of God, when the poor had stopped believing in themselves.

It is the testimony of a life lived in fidelity. If someone at your funeral says that about you, it is because you have been faithful to your vocation, even if things have not always gone well. What those revolutionaries indicated was that loyalty to the poor means trusting them, without criticizing their failures, helping them, showing them trust and respect, recognizing their virtues, even if you do not share the same faith or the same ideas.

Faithfulness discerns “how to answer to the calls of the poor of today in a new way,” strengthening the sense of cooperation, since individual service is insignificant if it does not form a team with other people or associations that are believers or lack faith. And not only for efficiency or benefits, but because we love the poor and God.

Loyalty in the community or in the team

But the vocation of a Vincentian is developed within a group or branch, and more than any other value, loyalty is the most necessary gift today in groups. The best gift that can be offered to the companions is to be loyal, to maintain the trust at their side without leaving them behind because they feel disappointed or hurt and even if the personalities clash, without keeping silence in the meetings, whatever happens, against the wind and tide.

In any relationship  — family, friends, community or work colleagues — we can not promise that there will be no disappointments, that we will never spoil friendship, that we will not confront or offend. If we stay and do not give up when disappointment occurs, disappointments, deceptions can be cleansed with love and wounds can be cured with time, and even bitterness can be changed into love.

The best gift that can be given to colleagues is to keep trying. We are all weak, we are hurt, we are sinners and we are offended. In our groups, friends, family and workplaces we can not promise that we will not disappoint or offend, but we can promise that we will not disengage from our colleagues or marginalize anyone, despite disappointment, discomfort or offense.

Loyalty implies a commitment to another person, family, companions or poor people. However, as time goes by, certain problems and temptations cause the trust to deteriorate and even loyalty to weaken. And it is precisely the strength of love that is felt towards the Vincentian branch to which one belongs that allows, through dialogue, to overcome the inconveniences.

It is not valid to committing to this unspoken condition: “I will be faithful and loyal to you as long as you do not disappoint me or hurt me seriously, because if you do, I will leave.” With this premise, there is no group or friendship that can survive, because it is impossible to live and work together, for any length of time, without being disappointed or hurt.

The grown Vincentians who look back, do not feel the wounds, rejections, misunderstandings and bitterness that were also part of that vocation. These episodes have been purified and cleansed because, thanks to loyalty and trust, it has grown the love and tolerance that love for the poor has given them. They have felt difficult moments due to differences in personalities, ideas, feelings or mentality about the group, the service and the poor. The simple fact of having to be treated for years, has led them to understand each other over differences.

A Vincentian must be willing to defend the group and the poor at all times and in all circumstances, and give them unconditional support. Loyalty is a key to coexistence; is to seek day by day the happiness of the companions and the poor.

It is not necessary that fidelity or loyalty be manifested with words or writings. Each Vincentian branch has implicit links that are understood. Loyalty leads to maintain the links we have contracted with other colleagues, to protect the values ​​and to comply with the given word when enrolling in the branch to which we belong. Actually, this is what Jesus Christ did and that is why they crucified him.

Author: Benito Martínez, C.M.



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