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.
There are those who can teach you a great deal about the ideas of faith, but how does one really live it out, how does one share of their lives in the most concrete and practical terms. The Scriptures give 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 the saint we celebrate today. Vincent de Paul 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
Christ who chose to become poor. Indeed, 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 our Catholic high schools (and some public schools have joined the party), we require service hours for graduation. For some, that is an incredible burden and hardship. To be honest, this requirement is often ridiculously small, because if we were really doing our job correctly, you should be finished by the end of Freshman Year. Why? Because service is at the heart of what we are about in Catholicism. It is the very reason why we exist.
Here at Holy, our Vincent de Paul Society, living out the mission of St. Vincent, does amazing work. With the Carrigan bequest, they are able to do even more. Let me know if you would like to be a part of this amazing ministry and live out your faith.
By the way, the feast of St. Vincent de Paul is Monday, September 27th.