A model for seeing Jesus in those in need...
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul (September 27, 2019): HG 2:1-9; PS 43:1,2,3,4; LK 9:18-22
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days
St. Vincent de Paul was born in Gascony, France, about 1580, and spent his early years working on his family’s farm.
However, he was educated and soon became a tutor. This allowed him to pursue his studies for the priesthood and to be ordained at 19 years of age. While on a sea voyage, he was captured by pirates and spent two years as a slave before being set free by a new owner he converted to Christianity. In time, Vincent became the spiritual director for a rich woman. After he heard the dying confession of a poor man who worked on one of her estates, he dedicated himself to relieving the burden of those men, women and children who suffer from poverty, sickness, ignorance and cruelty. He tirelessly helped those in need and encouraged others to do the same. He enlisted the efforts of many devout women to form what is now known as the Ladies of Charity. He established the Congregation of the Mission, an order of priests, as well as the Daughters of Charity, an order of active women religious with St. Louise de Marillac. All served the needy through schools, orphanages, hospitals and many other forms of assistance. “Take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord, and work! For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.… And my spirit continues in your midst; do not fear! (Haggai 2:4-5).
St. Vincent de Paul influenced many rich people who assisted his work. He also encouraged better education and spiritual development for priests. Moreover, his ever-greater devotion to Christ led to deeper holiness and a change in his own personality. As a young man he was considered rather touchy and cross, but in time he was recognized for his sensitivity to others. He died at the age of 80. His lifetime of work for those in need led, most appropriately, to his being named patron of charitable societies. His memory is particularly honored through the worldwide efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a parish-based organization of laypeople founded in the 19th century that continues to serve God by serving His people who are in need, in trouble or in pain.
Suggested missionary action: We can pray to St. Vincent de Paul asking him to guide our own charitable efforts by offering our prayer, time and financial support to help the poor and suffering, as we are able.