We all know the words “I have a dream”. It was… and remains… a bold dream!
The “I have a dream” prequels
How many of us know the prequels to these words?
I am not looking for notes he made preparing for this speech. It was not a one-time speech. It was another variation of his “stump speech.”. It was arguably his best “sermon”. This modern-day preacher drew from his background as he articulated God’s dream in the context of his generation so divided by the color of skin.
In reality, it was a speech that had many prequels over the millennia. I am thinking of God’s dream as expressed in various times and ways throughout our scriptures. The Epistles to the Hebrews sums up God’s dream.
“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.”
When pressed, Jesus summed up all the scriptures, the laws and the prophets with just two sentences. “Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.”
Shortly before he died, Jesus put God’s dream into words in a prayer, “that all may be one”. But long before then, he taught them, and us, to pray to OUR father. This is the basic reminder that we are all equal as God’s sons and daughters.
He spelled out God’s dream for us in all kinds of stories. In his description of the last judgment he said that living that dream was more than just words. The dream of God’s kingdom becoming a reality for all those who followed him depended on what they did to the least of their brothers and sisters.
Jesus even acted out that dream by washing the feet of his disciples and telling them to do this in memory of him. For him God’s dream was not merely a nice thought but something he actually lived. The next day he gave us the ultimate enactment of love for everyone, even those who put him to death.
The dream of bringing this good news to all
St. Vincent was not Martin Luther King. He didn’t give a speech that would be echoed for decades and even be quoted by a Pope. But Vincent did live a dream that is alive after four centuries.
Vincent’s original dream seemed to be to find comfort for himself and his family. As he read the scripture more and more, he tried to put himself in the scenes he read about. He finally understood God’s dream as lived by Jesus. He allowed himself to be transformed by that dream.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
He, St. Louise, Blesseds Frederic and Rosalie, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and all their followers embraced that dream heroically. Today more than 4 million ordinary people in the Vincentian Family across all walks of life say with Martin Luther King “I have a dream”!
Sequels to God’s Dream
- How aware am I of being a sequel to God’s dream?
- In what practical ways have that dream changed me?
- In such a divided world how can I best embody that dream?
Click below to hear an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.