Easter 06, Year A
- “Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord (Ps. 12:6)
In chapter IV, Part One, of The Holiness of Vincent de Paul Jacques Delarue says of St. Vincent de Paul (© 1960 Geoffrey Chapman Ltd.):
- His life was a running conversation with God and even when he was talking to men
- he did not interrupt it: “Oh Saviour!” he would cry out, “Oh Saviour! Blessed be God!”
- This was no affectation, but the spontaneous movement of a loving soul.
This statement, I believe, is another way of saying that St. Vincent sanctified Christ as Lord in his heart.
Because Jesus was so enshrined inside him, there was no way St. Vincent could forget that he lived in Jesus Christ by the death of Jesus Christ, and that he ought to die in Jesus Christ by the life of Jesus Christ, and that his life ought to be hidden in Jesus Christ and filled with Jesus Christ, and that in order to die like Jesus Christ, it was necessary to live like Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus was so set apart in his heart, St. Vincent would never lose sight of Jesus’ presence. He saw Jesus as the only one that gave meaning to the intense efforts and activities demanded by the ministry of preaching the gospel to the poor and of assisting them, and having them assisted, in every way. He looked up to Jesus Christ as the Rule of the Mission. Thus, besides practicing the presence of the Lord, St. Vincent also practiced doing the Lord’s will in every action. With his eyes—if I may use Jacques Delarue’s expression, albeit with slight modification—fixed on Jesus, St. Vincent discovered what Jesus wanted of him and he “fanned the flame of that untiring zeal which carried him wholeheartedly to the aid of the most degraded people.”
Clearly, then, St. Vincent’s love did not stop at words. He loved, of course, with the sweat of his brows and the strength of his arms. But more fundamentally, his love for Jesus was proved genuine because he did Jesus’ will and he kept Jesus’ commandments.
And because St. Vincent genuinely loved Jesus, he was taken up into the heavenly loving communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having become heavenly and no longer worldly, he became capable as well of what the world could not possibly be capable of. The world can accept only what it sees and knows. Anyone, on the other hand, who is in loving communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, knows and sees the divinity by virtue of the divinity’s remaining with him and being in him.
St. Vincent saw, therefore, what the world could no longer see. He saw the living Jesus and he lived seeing Jesus. St. Vincent saw and served Jesus especially in the person of the poor, so that for him, paradoxically, not being left an orphan—who, along with the widow and the alien, represented in Israel of old the most vulnerable and defenseless member of society—meant the Lord would always be with us until the end of the age since we would always have the poor with us (cf. "St.Vincent's Dining: 111th Visit" at Vincent@listserv.stjohns.edu).
Do I love enough and am in a ceaseless conversation with Jesus, in the way of St. Vincent, that I too know, see and accept that I am not an orphan because present where I am are countless orphans and the powerless they stand for, including those I take to be beyond attentiveness to God’s word and conversion? Is Jesus so enthroned in my heart that I cannot fail to know, see and accept his real presence in the body broken and in the blood shed?