Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to follow the Lord and to obey His will, to put our trust in Him and not to be vain in our desire to recognised and honoured, and rather, we should seek the greater glory of God in all things. We should seek to be humble and strive to resist the temptations to satisfy our own ego and personal ambitions so that we may truly be faithful disciples and followers of the Lord.
In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, we have heard the words of the Lord to His people telling them and reassuring them that they were His people and He would be with them, blessing them and protecting them, as He would dwell once again in their midst in Jerusalem, the place where the Temple and House of God was. At that time, during the years following the return from the Babylonian exile, many of the Israelites were still scattered all around and Jerusalem was not yet fully rebuilt.
The Israelites had earlier on been humiliated and crushed, as their nations of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah were destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians respectively. Most of the people of Israel were conquered and brought into exile in far-off land away from their ancestral lands, and their cities destroyed, while the Holy Temple of God in Jerusalem was also utterly destroyed and ruined.
However, God never abandoned and forgot about His people, and they were always foremost in His mind. This was also the case despite their wayward behaviour and actions, and God still wanted to forgive them for their sins and desired to see them turn away from those sins and wickedness that they have committed earlier on. As He brought them back to the land of their ancestors through the emancipation of King Cyrus of Persia, He wanted to remind them once again that they were His people and that He would always be with them.
As He said through the prophet Zechariah, He would gather the scattered people from all over the world and from all the nations, to gather them back once again into His presence. God would gather His people and bless them again in His presence, all reunited as one flock, and this is what He has promised to them. He even sent them His own Son to be born into the world as their Saviour. He gave them all His promised inheritance through Christ, Who opened for us all the path to eternal life and true glory with Him.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called through Christ to embrace God and to do His will wholeheartedly in our lives, as we heed His words in our Gospel passage today, that all those who welcomes the Lord faithfully and sincerely, and opens themselves to the Lord shall be great in His kingdom and shall be the first to be saved. All of us are called to partake in the efforts and great works to glorify the Lord through all that we do and through our contributions.
Today, all of us ought to reflect on the good examples of St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast we are celebrating today. We are all called to emulate the great life of this great saint, whose dedication to the Lord and actions were truly exemplary in helping so many people to find their way to the Lord, either by his direct actions or through the efforts whom he had gathered and inspired to follow in his footsteps. St. Vincent de Paul was very widely remembered for his role in founding the Congregation of the Mission also known after their founder as the Vincentians, as well as the inspiration in the establishment of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul after his passing, all inspired by his generosity and humility.
St. Vincent de Paul himself had a very eventful early life during his youth, as he was ordained a priest in his early years after being educated in a seminary, only to be taken captive by Barbary pirates and enslaved. He suffered in slavery for two years passing from master to master, before finally coming to the possession of one Guillaume Gautier, a former priest who had been enslaved himself and apostatised in order to be freed from slavery. Through the acts of one of Gautier’s wives, who was intrigued by St. Vincent’s Christian faith, eventually that led to St. Vincent de Paul returning to Christendom together with his former master.
St. Vincent de Paul thereafter continued his ministry and later on founded congregations and societies of Apostolic life inspired by his previous experiences including that of his capture and enslavement. He ministered to the poor, the captives and slaves, the weak and those who were oppressed and marginalised. Through the aforementioned Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentians, St. Vincent de Paul inspired many people to reach out to the least among their brethren and made many people to become aware of the plight of their fellow brethren.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we able to follow in the footsteps of this faithful servant of God, Whom the Lord had led and guided to become great inspiration for so many including that of ourselves? Shall we not learn to love the Lord and commit ourselves to Him just as He has been so kind and generous to us? Let us all be generous and charitable in giving just as St. Vincent de Paul had done, in giving his time, effort and attention to those who need them. We should love one another just in the same way that the Lord Himself has loved us.
Let us all reflect carefully on everything that we have discussed thus far today. May the Lord help us in discerning our path, that we may find our way amidst this world, amidst all the challenges and temptations that we may be facing daily in life. May God be with us always and may He strengthen us to be ever faithful to Him, at all times. Amen.