Throughout the Advent Season of 2020, each one of the four members of the International Vincentian Family Office will offer a brief video reflection about our present reality and the path of hope that leads to a future in which the birth of the Lord illuminates the present-day reality.
More than four hundred years ago, Vincent de Paul reminded us that it is on the peripheries, in the desert, on the frontier, in the midst of the crucified people and the reality of those men and women who are poor … it is there where we will find true religion.
That reality is closely related to the situation that we are living, not only this year but also now as we are about to begin the Advent Season. As everyone knows, Advent does not simply mean waiting (as one might suppose) but above all it refers to the certainty of the Savior’s arrival. How comforting to know that God walks in our midst; that God strengthens our history, and that God gives us the grace that we need at this precise moment. It is most important to understand with all of heart and mind and strength that God has come, comes again and continues to become present in the midst of each and every one of our commitments and realities … God always comes when we are able to open ourselves to him.
I want to briefly share with you and remind you of the time when Saint Catherine Laboure was gifted with the appearance of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal who spoke to her the following beautiful words: My child, God wants to give you a mission. You will encounter many difficulties but you will be able to overcome them if you do everything for God’s glory. Have trust and do not be afraid! The times are very evil; the entire world will experience misfortunes of all sorts … but come to the foot of this altar and there abundant graces will be spread over all those who ask for them with confidence and fervor. I will be with you and I have always focused my eyes on you. I will give you great graces. The time will come when the danger will be so great that everything will appear to be lost. At that moment, I will be with you. Have confidence! Have confidence.
Those words were addressed to Saint Catherine Laboure and yet at the beginning of this Advent Season, we can make those words our own as we remember that the Lord has entrusted us and continues to entrust us with a mission. Here we refer to a mission that the Lord hopes we can accomplish. Therefore, I want to remind you of the closing words of the first reading from the last Sunday in Ordinary Time (the feast of Christ the King) where we are invited to live the mission that Jesus himself undertook: the lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.
We pray that as members of the Vincentian Family we will be encouraged to continue the journey and to renew our Vincentian commitment, our baptismal commitment, our YES before the Lord and though the intercession of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May we live this Advent Season fully and with openness and fidelity.
Let us also remember that every moment of our lives is a blessing from God and provides us with an opportunity to place everything that we are and everything that we have at the service of building up the Kingdom of God.
Thank you, brothers and sisters! May this brief message strengthen us in our definitive encounter with the Lord.
May God bless us all!
Fr. Flavio Pereira, CM