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    Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

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Spiritual readings for Sunday 14th of January

08 January 2018 CGI news

Spiritual readings for Sunday 14th of January

Week of 8th January 2018 (reference: readings for Sunday 14th January)

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: 2Pet 1, 16-19; Mt 17, 1-9

"Who joins the Lord makes with him a single Spirit."

The readings for this week make us reflect on the meaning of the vocation. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin verb "vocare", that is "to call". The Christian or Vincentian vocation process occurs in the following way: God calls us; we respond to Him and follow Him. Therefore, at first vocation is God’s initiative to call us. However, the other two actions (that have to do with us) are as important as the first one: we respond to the call and follow it. If there is no answer, the vocation becomes a "call in the dark" and if there is no follow-up, the vocation becomes a wish.

These three verbs are well defined in the readings. In the first one, we find the story of the call to Samuel. God called him by his name and he says: "speak, Oh Lord, your servant is listening". Samuel listens to the Lord and is willing to listen. In the Gospel, Jesus calls the two men that followed John the Baptist and they become disciples of Jesus: their response was to change their life, because they saw in the Lamb of God, the liberating Messiah. Finally, in the letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives a theological explanation, and then a practical perspective of what should be the response to the call of God: "who joins the Lord makes with Him a single Spirit. He escapes from immorality", because "your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." Then he finishes with a forceful declaration of love to Christ: "you do not belong to yourselves, because you were redeemed at a high price". 

Therefore, who responds to the call of the Lord, first listens, then changes his life and, finally, no longer belongs to himself, but he becomes one Spirit with Him. This is a very beautiful sequence!

For us Vincentians, a very similar process occurs. First, God has the initiative to call us; it may be through a friend, through a notice in the parish, through a poor person who needs us. Sometimes the person called does not understand well, as Samuel did not understand well what God wanted of him. It does not matter, we respond nevertheless and go to the Conference and pay the visit. Then, we change our lives: we move to experience the Conference life and the meeting with the poor. There, we move on to the mystical transformation: when we come in the house of the poor, we become one single Spirit with the Christ dwelling there. From there, we are no longer the same; we do not belong to ourselves any more. The flame of discovering Jesus in the other, in the one who needs our service, moves our whole life. The "belonging to God" does not only result in the Vincentian visit, but in the complete transformation of our being.

We become aware that our body is indeed the Temple of the Holy Spirit and we do no longer want to sin. We want to use the body to serve more, without the constraint of fatigue in order to "be one with Christ". Our gifts are to be used to the direct service of the Poor and to fight for social justice: what we learn in prayer and in the mystique of the visit permeates our work, our intellect, our social life, in the sense of creating a fairer world around us.

Sometimes, this transformation occurs suddenly, as the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus, but other times, we need time to change our lives. In the second reading, Paul had arrived in Corinth, after crossing a big part of Greece, and stayed there about 18 months (years 50-52). According to Acts 18, 2-4, Paul began to work in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, a couple of Judaeo-Christians who were also manufacturers of tents and preached in the synagogue every Saturday. It was only when Silvanus and Timothy arrived in Corinth (2 Cor 1.19, Acts 18.5) that Paul devoted himself entirely to the proclamation of the Gospel. This is the miracle of the Vincentian vocation that Bl. Frederic Ozanam discovered and bequeathed to us. From a call to a simple visit, we become, in our own way, live messengers of the Gospel of justice and love.