"It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them." St Vincent de Paul (1)
St Vincent de Paul has always been one of my favorite saints. His words are clear, direct and uncompromising. Two of his more noteworthy sayings are: “Extend mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His mercy from us?” And, "Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances."
But no saying of Vincent has impacted me more than his demand that we love the poor, not just feed them. In truth, one can only know the power of this directive by experiencing it. Of all the ministries to which I have been called, it is my encounters with the poor that have been most life changing.
In Tanzania this past summer I visited with one of the first young women the African Women's Education Fund helped educate. Honorata joined the friars for a 6:30 am mass after traveling 150 miles to say thank you. After mass, she did not eat until she was sure the older and infirm friars were fed. As we talked at breakfast I said that I had never her sing like she did at mass that morning and her response was beautiful. I don't have much I can give to God but I can sing and dance for him. These are gifts God gave me and I am happy to return them.
Today, ask God for the grace of merciful eyes and a forgiving heart.
How do you think you can love and serve the poor?