Wednesday Eucharist at St. Paul's
Collect: Loving God, we thank you for your servant Vincent de Paul, who gave himself to training clergy to work among the poor and provided many institutions to aid the sick, orphans and prisoners. May we, like him, encounter Christ in the needy, the outcast and the friendless, that we may come at length into your kingdom where you reign, one God, holy and undivided Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
Today is the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic priest born in the late 16th century, is famous for many things, among them he revitalized clergymen who had fallen morally, was a pioneer in seminary education, founded societies of apostolic and religious life and ministered as a
But chief among the reasons to remember him, is that he is known as the Apostle of Charity. In his name, people still today serve the poor and the houseless. Vincent de Paul centered the works of charity as the primary means in how Christians should act toward one another, and those in need.
In reflection of the ministry of Vincent de Paul, I began to think of the Latin American 20th Century hymn, Cuando El Pobre Nada Tiene. Allow me to read you the English translation:
When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers, when the thirsty water give unto us all, when the crippled in their weakness strengthen others, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
When at last all those who suffer find their comfort, when they hope though even hope seems hopelessness, when we love though hate at times seems all around us, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing, when our lips can speak no words other than true, when we know that love for simple things is better, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance, when we learn how to peace instead of war, when each stranger that we meet is called a neighbor, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
In being charitable, we acknowledge our neighbors' humanity by offering them dignity, and we offer ourselves dignity by not ignoring the humanity of our neighbors. We emulate the very work of Christ when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the prisoners, bury the dead, and give money to the poor.
The very core of the mission of the church, “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” is to emulate the work of Christ himself – but beyond that, when we see the work of God already at play in the lives of our neighbors, we can be assured that God still goes that road with us. Charity is one place we encounter the likeness of God in the strangers who are in need, because just like those strangers, our God came to us as a poor stranger. Like St. Vincent de Paul, as we go on throughout this week, find ways to offer dignity to your neighbor, either here at St. Paul’s or in the course of your daily walk with God.