The story is told of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on a camping trip.
As they lay sleeping one night, Holmes woke Watson and said, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson said, “I see millions of stars.” Holmes asked, “And what does that tell you?” Watson replied, “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. And what does it tell you?”
Holmes answered, “Somebody stole our tent.”
There are many people who can theorize and speculate in life, but often they are not very keen about the everyday practical things of life. Such is the case with Christianity. We can teach a great deal about the ideas of faith, but how do we really live it out, how do we share of our lives in the most concrete and practical terms. The Scriptures today offer us some help as they talk about faith in the most basic matter of fact ways: Serve the poor.
Such was also the message of St. Vincent de Paul. Vincent lived in the seventeenth century and the core and center of his ministry was service to the poor. Vincent not only pledged his life to that ministry, but also began a religious order dedicated to the work among the poor. There are two very practical things that Vincent taught. First, he reminds us to look upon the poor with the eyes of faith. Even though they may look rough and unrefined, they have taken the place of Christ who chose to become poor. Second, Vincent says bringing good news to the poor was the essence of Jesus’ message. Vincent felt this need for the service to the poor so strongly, that he told his brothers that nothing should come before that service. If you are praying and someone comes in need, use your service as your prayer. “God is not neglected if you leave him for such service.”
In case you didn’t notice, there are ample opportunities around Holy Redeemer to serve the poor. Why not get involved yourself?
St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day is this Friday.