Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Go to the poor: you will find God. - St Vincent de Paul

The net result of my experience on the matter is the judgment I have formed, that true religion - true religion, Gentlemen, true religion is to be found amongst the poor. - St Vincent de Paul

Gospel text (Lk 9,51-56):
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?"
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

Today's Gospel reminds me of one of the best homilies that I ever heard. The priest read from a short story by a Catholic writer, and it was about a woman who was very devout and proper, but had a bit of a superiority complex about her holiness, and looked down upon those who were not able to be as fervent in their pursuit of heaven as was she.

Then she has a vision of every ragged, motley and deranged person she had passed on the street being transported joyfully up to heaven, singing out of tune, weeping for joy and otherwise engaged in a sort of lunatic-like celebration of their salvation. And she wondered: How are those people going to heaven? And how are they getting there before me?

The disciples in the Gospel today remind me a bit of that woman, asking Jesus to rain down terror on the Samaritans. God loves the ragged people, and Jesus was friends with many of them, which caused Jesus to be looked down upon by the Pharisees and others.

The secret, I think, is recognizing our own raggedness. We have all sinned and we will all sin again. But if we recognized our own raggedness, instead of pretending that it doesn't exist, then perhaps we can engage in that lunatic-like celebration as we are taken up to heaven.

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