Scripture: 1st Reading: Ezra9,5-9; Resp. Psalm: Tobit13,1-4,6,8; Gosp. Accl.: Mk1,15; Gospel: Lk9,1-6
The word today reveals to us the effects of sin and iniquities: shame; blush; guilt; slavery by the physical enemy, other evil men whose business is to dominate and make people's lives miserable; slavery by the spiritual and mortal enemy, the devil. This last slavery is the most destructive because it totally dominates and subjugates the individual and takes the life out of him.
Sin thus leads to captivity. In the case of Israel that Prophet Ezra wrote about today, it led to plundering and utter shame. An entire nation was sacked and taken into political captivity in exile. The entire moral, political, cultural, religious and spiritual fabric of the nation were not spared in this plunder. The people paid a heavy price for their infidelities.
The word of God from the book of Ezra today however also contains an element of positive hope and thanksgiving. Yahweh did not abandon His people because He is the God of the covenant. He left Israel a remnant that returned to rebuild the temple from its ruins. He did not abandon them in their bondage. He extended His mercy to His people before the kings of Persia, to grant them respite to set up the house of God and repair its ruins. Yahweh also granted them protection in Judea and Jerusalem.
What the people of old forgot to act on was what our Lord came to correct when He came. Our Lord knew that the root cause of sin was the devil. In today's Gospel passage, He sent out His disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and to heal. For them to do this, He gave them power and authority over all demons. He gave them power to cure diseases and set people free from them.
The mission to preach was so urgent that they were not to take anything extra with them: no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; no two tunics. They were to depend solely on the providence of God and the goodwill of those to whom they ministered. By this action, they were to learn that the success of the mission did not in any way depend on them but on God Himself, the Owner of the mission.
St. Vincent de Paul saw the sinfulness and terrible decadence of his age. He did not feign indifference but rolled up his sleeves to make a positive difference. He saw the decay and rot in the priesthood as a result of ignorance and the absence of proper formation for the priesthood. He saw the decay of poverty and neglect that was visited on the people. In both instances, he acted and brought about a change.
He founded a congregation of men to take care of formation of priests. He established a congregation of women to take care of the poor people and minister to their needs, restore their human dignity and self worth. Till this day throughout the world, his works of formation are carried in by the Congregation of Mission Fathers and the works of Charity by the Daughters of Charity sisters and the group of lay cooperators, the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Let us wake up to our Christian calling to be disciples of the Master. Let us not allow the devil to dominate us. Let us extend His mission of love to the poor that lives beside us. Let us show His loving face to the underprivileged. Let us assist the members of the St. Vincent de Paul in our Parish to bring relief to the poor. Let us remember that our ability and the means we have to personally take care of our needs is by God's grace. May St. Vincent de Paul, the Saint of the charity, intercede for us.
Let us pray: "O God, who for the relief of the poor and the formation of the clergy endowed the Priest Saint Vincent de Paul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that afire with that same spirit, we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.