Easter 05, Year B-2009
- We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers (1 Jn. 3:14)
St. Vincent de Paul understood very well, no doubt, the teaching, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” He explained the teaching to Father Portail in these terms (P. Coste, I, p. 295):
- Remember, Father, that we live in Jesus Christ by the death of Jesus Christ
- and that we ought to die in Jesus Christ by the life of Jesus Christ
- and that our life ought to be hidden in Jesus Christ and full of Jesus Christ
- and that in order to die like Jesus Christ it is necessary to live like Jesus Christ.
But the Jesus in whom St. Vincent remained and who remained in him—if we may take his life and works as a report on how he had seen Jesus and that he had spoken to him and how he had spoken out boldly in Jesus’ name, for instance, before Cardinal Richelieu and Cardinal Mazarin too—was certainly the Lord and Master he met “in the sick, the prisoner, the galley-slave, the abandoned child, those ravaged by the religious wars of the day” (cf. Robert P. Maloney, C.M., The Way of Vincent de Paul: A Contemporary Spirituality in the Service of the Poor [Brooklyn, N.Y.: New City Press, 1992], pp. 26-27).
In union with Jesus in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, St. Vincent discovered what was pleasing to God and bore so much fruit, as attested by his many achievements on behalf of the poor, that he “just about transformed the face of the Church” (cf. ibid., p. 11). He fulfilled his vow to consecrate the rest of his life to the poor and did not stand idly by at the presence of human wretchedness (cf. Jacques Delarue, The Holiness of Vincent de Paul [London: Geoffrey Chapman], pp. 14, 34), loving not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
And because St. Vincent kept his word, the poor ate their fill. Waiting for the poor and waiting on them, and not making any of them feel ashamed, he thus showed respect for the church of God (cf. 1 Cor. 11:22, 33).