Signs of Hope
Recently Vincentians of the Eastern Province were reminded of some signs of hope. We have a small but steady stream of young people both in Panama and here in the United States who are at varying stages of preparing themselves to be signs of hope as they follow in the footsteps of Christ as evangelizers of the forgotten.
As I look around a very divided world, I see that there is at least one thing we can all agree on. We can all agree on our hunger for hope.
At the same time, I am acutely aware that hope means different things to different people.
Hope means different things to the young and the old, the comfortable and the distressed, believers and non-believers.
Let’s stay for a moment with the sign of hope in the young persons who are preparing for commitment of service in the footsteps of Vincent. That hope can mean many things.
The practicalities of hope for God’s Kingdom
For a senior this infusion of new life can mean a hope that a particular ministry one has labored in for years will continue. For others with a lifetime ahead, that hope can mean that they will see more and more ways of understanding the prayer Jesus taught us… “Thy kingdom come”.
God has chosen not to wave a magic wand to bring about the kingdom. From the beginning God respected our freedom in hoping we would learn to live as sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. God gave us a head start in the Garden. Over millennia we have tried to remake the garden into what we thought it should be and with ourselves in the center.
So God gave us guidelines in the 10 commandments. God promised to be with us as we worked to live in this kingdom. Through the prophets God tried to tell us what that kingdom looked like and when we worked against its coming.
Then Jesus gave us even simpler guidelines – Love the Lord your God AND your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Pray “thy kingdom come”. He unpacked this in the “beatitudes”. He told us many stories about what God’s kingdom looks like. Think of the radical parable of the Good Samaritan. We are each to be neighbors to one another regardless of country of origin, belief or sinfulness.
Jesus, in the ultimate scandal of the cross, laid down his life for sinners, you and me. “Do this in memory of me. Wash one another’s feet as I have washed yours.”
Vincentians and the hope of God’s kingdom
What does Jesus expect me to contribute to coming of God’s kingdom.
There is no doubt that Vincent called us to work with the sweat of our brows and the strength of our arms. There is also no doubt that St. Vincent spent a lifetime discovering implications he had not been aware of. Initially, it was the spiritual welfare of poor country people. It developed into an awareness of the desperate need to form a clergy devoted to serving this need… and not just country people.
He also became aware of the needs of people who through no fault of their own were fleeing the ravages of war, did not have the basics of food and housing while some feasted in fine houses. And then there were the “foundlings”, abandoned and “thrown away” before they had a chance.
There are so many ways we are called to contribute to living in God’s Kingdom. Cf 1 Cor. 12:45.
Food for thought
- What is my best contribution to living as a sign of “thy kingdom come”?
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.