November 18 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 17 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Our readings recently have been increasingly about faith and the importance of trust in God AND following where God leads us. Our second readings from Hebrews have reinforced that Jesus is our model and salvation. Our first reading this week closes with, “Those who lead many to justice will shine like the stars forever.” This is where the readings about the end of time become less about something we hope will be in the far future and more about the way that we are living our faith now. We need to lead the many to justice. We are called to lead others to justice. We are called to help them see His Presence in our actions, our care for the poor, the struggling, the sick, and all who are dependent on our compassion. We are called to live our faith, reflecting the love of Christ here and now, that we might shine like the stars.
St. Elizabeth is a kindred spirit to the work we do in SVdP. She was the daughter of the King of Hungary. But she led a life of prayer, sacrifice and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate. She lived a short life dying at the age of 24 in the early 1200’s. She shared the zeal – the passion – Vincent had for serving the poor. She is the patron saint of Catholic Charities. Like St. Vincent, she saw the need to live our faith now in obedience to the example of Jesus. Do I look to live my faith today, by bringing justice or do I rely on the hope of the future? Do I let my prayer lifeform my actions and lead me to compassion and mercy for the poor and struggling?
Lord Jesus, help me to see the injustices of society and help me to work against them. Let me see the hope of the future but understand my call to live today. Help me to submit in obedience to the example of Christ in bringing justice and compassion to all who are in need. Let me act with the passion, zeal and conviction of St. Vincent and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
November 11 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus calls the attention of his disciples to the poor widow in today’s gospel. There are three aspects to the poor widow we should take note of. First is why she is in poverty? It is the injustices of the societal norms of the times which place her in poverty. Second, despite these injustices and obstacles which she faces, she still is generous and caring for others. She gives even when she would have every reason not to. Third is her faith in God. She was rich in faith while those who gave only from their surplus were poor in faith.
As Vincentians, we often times find these same aspects in the lives of the poor we minister to as well. Many are victims of social injustice and an economic system which disadvantages them. Despite the obstacles, so often we see great faith and generosity in those we serve. How many times I have heard it asked, why they gave that money away when it could have helped them. And the reply is so simple – because someone else needed it. We would do well to learn from the poor, – faith and generosity grounded in trust in the Lord. Do I call out the systems and practices which work against the poor improving their lives? Do I recognize the generosity of self-sacrifice? Does my faith persist even in the face of injustice?
Lord Jesus, help me to see the injustices of society and help me to work against them. Give me the courage to give sacrificially as did the widow. Grace me with faith so strong that it persists and increases in times of sorrow and pain. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
November 4 – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus provides us with clarity this week as the scribes try to trip him up. Which commandment is the greatest, they want to know? Realize that we are not just talking first out of ten. No, there were 613 laws which Moses gave in the Torah. But Jesus did not focus on the 613 or the details of them. Rather, he went right to the source of all law, God himself. God, the source of all freedom and salvation, the source of redemption, and the perfection of love itself. We are to love God with all our being. Our focus is to be on God alone, for His love for us commands nothing less. And our love of Him – when true and complete – cannot help but bring us to love of our neighbor as ourselves. For when we are truly focused on God alone, we cannot help but recognize God in our neighbor.
As Vincentians, it is in the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized that we find and share the love of God. It is through our ministry that we come to know that it is in the Lord that we find our strength. It is here that we find the immensity of His compassion and mercy. Do I seek God’s mercy for those I minister to as well as for myself? Are my eyes opened to His unending love for all of us? Is my focus completely on His love for us and my love for Him?
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to your love for me. Give me the humility to seek only your love and your will. Help me to reflect that love in all that I do. Let me love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. And let me love my neighbor as myself. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 28 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our gospel this week we hear the story of the blind Bartimeaous, who throws away his cloak in total trust, obedience and faith in the Lord. He doesn’t walk away because the cost is too steep (the wealthy man). He doesn’t place conditions for following (James and John). His cloak is all he has, but he does not hesitate. He has total faith and total trust in Jesus. And he follows him with total commitment. We too are called to bring our needs to Jesus and to have total trust that he will provide for all that we need.
As Vincentians, we should not look within ourselves for answers to our problems or those of our brothers and sisters in need. We should look only in one place. We should look to God, turning to him in prayer, and listening intently for the answers he provides. Do we have total trust that God will provide us the answers we need? Are we willing to walk away from any conditions on our requests to God? Are the prayers we lift up to our Lord filled with requests or filled with a seeking of His will?
Lord Jesus, help me to trust in you as Bartimeaous did. Give me the courage to let go of all that keeps me from a total commitment to you. Help me to seek your will in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 21 – Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our gospel today we hear “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.” How many times do we approach God in this way? I know I certainly do so repeatedly ‘even though I know better.’ But as Jesus tells us, “we do not know what we are asking.” In other words, be careful what you wish for. Our Responsorial Psalm gives us the proper attitude and approach we should come to God with. “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.” We should come to the Lord humbly seeking His mercy placing our trust fully and completely in Him.
As Vincentians, this captures the essence of our ministry. We come to God, seeking mercy for ourselves and for those whom He brings before us. Even when we do not understand or like where God is leading us, we must trust completely in His Divine Providence. Every time we give over to God that which belongs to Him (everything), we grow a little more in holiness. Do I trust in His ways at all times? Do I walk in humility before God? Am I willing to offer myself sacrificially that His mercy and goodness may be seen by others?
Lord Jesus, help me to always place myself before you in service and gratitude. Allow me to grow each day in humility, sacrificing my needs and desires that I may make know your mercy in the lives of others. Give me a heart that fully commits to you and trusts in your ways. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 14 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our gospel this weekend we hear the story of the rich young man who comes to ask Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He is a good and virtuous person who obeys the commandments, is already generous and appears headed in the right direction. But Jesus tells him he must get rid of all his property and come and follow Him. Are we to take from this that we should have no money or material goods? Of course not. But what we must rid ourselves of
are any barriers or obstacles that keep us from fully committing to Jesus. Fully committing means giving ourselves over to Him that He may use us as He sees fit. It is about trusting completely in Him and submitting fully in humility to Him. As Vincentians, we are called to approach the poor and vulnerable in complete humility and trust. We are to be a vehicle for Christ to work through. One problem we can have when caring for the poor is we care for them instead of allowing Christ to care for them through us, and allowing them to see the face and love of Christ. Mother Teresa tells us “The poor are hungry
not only for food, they are hungry to be recognized as human beings. They are hungry for dignity and to be treated as we are treated. They are hungry for our love.” Do I minister with complete love, coming with humility and trust in God? Do I set my prejudices to the side?
Lord Jesus, help me to minister with complete humility and trust. Help me to remove the barriers in my life that keep me from fully committing to you and to the poor. Let me be consumed by my love for you, that I may become that which you give to me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen