Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest- Readings

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Psalm 111; Matthew 9:35-38

The Gospel reading from Matthew is a short description of the public life of Jesus.  We are told that he moved constantly through towns and villages.  He taught in synagogues and proclaimed the Good News of the Reign of God, inaugurating a society where people’s lives were based on mutual love and service and living together as brothers and sisters in God’s family.   He also brought healing to those suffering from all kinds of sickness, of whatever kind.

When Jesus saw the crowds of people he was moved with compassion for them.  He saw them troubled and abandoned, not knowing where they were going, like sheep without a shepherd.

He saw the vastness of their needs and knew that he himself, in his humanity, could not serve them all.  So Jesus called on his disciples to help and for them to call on many others to help in the work of making God’s Reign a reality in the world.  He told them:

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

One person who answered this call with extraordinary generosity was Vincent de Paul.  We find him doing exactly the same work of Jesus – proclaiming the Gospel, bringing healing to the sick, and help to the poor and destitute.  And, like Jesus, he invited a large group of both men and women to involve themselves in this work.  We thank God for the all great work they have done and continue to do.

But we too, must hear the word of Jesus.  The harvest is still great and the labourers are not nearly enough to bring it in.  Every baptised Christian is being invited to answer this call to help make our world the kind of place God wants it to be  – a world of love, service and mutual sharing.

The First Reading is from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.  In the passage Paul is telling the Christians of Corinth how few of them have come from either the educated or influential classes.  But it is precisely through their lack of the world’s resources that the Wisdom of God can shine through them:

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to abolish things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

And it is true that the Christian communities in the early Church largely consisted of simple people and even slaves.  Yet, such was the power of the Gospel message that Christian message spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond to the rest of the world.  As Paul says, because the Message itself has a power to win over people of all kinds, we should just tell it:

Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord..

Vincent de Paul himself came from peasant stock but, like his Master, reached out with the Gospel message to people of all classes.  But, like his Master, too, he was filled with compassion for the poor and needy and did so much for them.  And his work continues both in the congregations he founded and in those lay organisations inspired by his example.

Where do I fit into all this?  And my family?  And my parish?

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