Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

The greatest among you will be the servant of all.  St. Vincent de Paul is a powerful example of sanctity based on the service of others especially the poor and needy.  A very powerful way to grow in holiness is to check and counter the vices we find in our souls with actions and thoughts that are contrary.  When we do not think or behave in accord with the Gospel, a zealous way to move forward is by counteracting ourselves.  It may seem unnatural to move so quickly, but in the wisdom of God is it actually replacing what is wrong or selfish with what is good and natural in God’s perspective.  Jesus does that in today’s Gospel: while His disciples are focused on prideful greatness, Jesus places an innocent child in their midst.  He directly counteracts their pride.

Saint Vincent de Paul said that we should make it a habit to think the best about people, to see them in the most positive light possible, with the best possible motives.  That goes against the sinful tendency we typically experience to suppose the worst about people, or to doubt their intentions.  Saint Francis of Assisi forced himself to kiss a leper, to get over his disgust at them and the leper revealed himself as Christ.  We could talk about what Saint Catherine Laboure did to overcome her disgust at those who were sick.

May we respond – even heroically – when grace moves us to reject a way of being or thinking that is against the Gospel.

JEROME:

This is that wine with which, when youths and maidens are intoxicated, they at once thirst for virginity. They are filled with the spirit of chastity, and the prophecy of Zechariah comes to pass, at least if we follow the Hebrew literally, for he prophesied concerning virgins: “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. For what is his goodness, and what is his beauty, but the corn of the elect, and wine that gives birth to virgins?” They are virgins of whom it is written in the forty-fifth psalm:1 “She is led to the king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.”1

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:

In what way does the Physician of souls amputate pride’s passion? How does he deliver the beloved disciple from being the prey of the enemy and from a thing hateful to God and man? “He took a child,” it says, “and set it by him.” He made the event a means of benefiting both the holy apostles themselves and us their successors. This illness, as a rule, preys upon all those who are in any respect superior to other people.2

Footnotes

  1. AGAINST JOVINIANUS 1.30. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 54. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 164–165). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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