Readings for St Vincent de Paul: Helper of the poor (27 September 1660)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.” (Matthew 25:31)
In Matthew’s Gospel this chapter and verse starts the beginning of the separation of the sheep from the goats. The sheep are placed on the right hand side and the goats on the left. The sheep are remembered for seeing Jesus in the poor and down trodden and responding with loving care. The goats are remembered for not seeing Jesus in the same and being oblivious to their situation. The lesson of course, is that we should strive to see Jesus in the down trodden and respond to their needs as best we can.
St Vincent is remembered for being a caring sheep as depicted in this chapter. He dedicated himself to helping the poor and needy. “Out of his Confraternity of Charity there arose an order of nuns called the Daughters (or Sisters) of Charity, devoted to nursing those who were sick and poor. He said of them, “Their convent is the sick-room, their chapel the parish church, their cloister the streets of the city.” “(Taken from an article by James Kiefer)
In my formative years, first through fourth grades, I attended St Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Nashville, Tennessee. I would not learn of its significance in my life until years later. The sisters there instructed us in manners, how to eat, that is, to drink only after finishing our meals, about reading, writing and arithmetic, and about God. I am now convinced that they baptized me. I did not know it at the time. It was when I sent for my transcript for college that I read the transcript from St Vincent where it answered the question, “How is child identified?” The answer: “Baptismal Certificate.” So I pondered that these good sisters made it their responsibility to see to it that these poor children got into heaven. God Bless them for that.
Not everything was good at St Vincent. There was a secular lay teacher there that was mean to me. I remember that. She is probably among the goats now. But my take-away is very good. That school, which is no longer in operation, shaped my spiritual life for the rest of my life.
I was given a choice in life, to be a sheep or a goat. I’m spending my life looking for Jesus in every person I meet. I don’t care what the person believes or even if they believe. My calling is to be good to people. Jesus is easy to spot. You can see him in men or women, black or white and all shades in between, gay or straight, rich or poor, free or incarcerated, democrat or republican. You get the idea, everybody. Come sheep with me. Let’s go on a Jesus hunt.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.