This year the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has celebrated 150 years of caring for the poor, the sick and the vulnerable in New Zealand. Throughout the country and in every other part of the world the Vinnies’ reputation is one of closeness to those who suffer most in our world.
This week Food For Faith visited one of the Christchurch Vinnies stores to meet with the volunteers inviting them to share their experience of service. You would think that these good people would tell of how they were helping others, but what was most noticeable was their sense of receiving from the poor.
This theme of receiving from those who are poor is the heart of Pope Francis’ message for last month’s first World Day of the Poor. He wrote on that occasion:
“If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor… We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.
“Let us never forget that, for Christ’s disciples, poverty is above all a call to follow Jesus in his own poverty. It means walking behind him and beside him, a journey that leads to the beatitude of the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20). Poverty means having a humble heart that accepts our creaturely limitations and sinfulness and thus enables us to overcome the temptation to feel omnipotent and immortal. Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career and luxury as our goal in life and the condition for our happiness. Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities, despite our limitations, with trust in God’s closeness and the support of his grace. Poverty, understood in this way, is the yardstick that allows us to judge how best to use material goods and to build relationships that are neither selfish nor possessive (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 25-45).
Take 3 minutes now to watch this brief clip, then please take up Mike’s invitation and give a little to those in great need this Christmas. Your financial support will enable the Vinnies to continue their work into the new year.
The link referred to on the clip (and the banner link below) is to the Christchurch Vincent de Paul “givealittle” donation page, but you can search and find your local group if you prefer.
“O” Antiphon for 20 December
O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.