The following are some thoughts from the CIF Director, Father Marcelo Manimtim, at our final Eucharist, after eight weeks together in session and pilgrimage, November 2, 2012.
… Our particular sharing in the work of the Church comes from St. Vincent’s conviction that the poor themselves are sacraments of Christ.
To each of us St. Vincent truly says…”It is with this belief that you must serve them, and when you visit them, rejoice and say within yourselves, ‘I’m going to the poor people to honor in their person the person of our Lord.’” This vision and conviction of St. Vincent gives specificity and purpose to how we live in community and to all our work in collaboration with all persons who serve the poor.
Some of you have acknowledged that these two months have been for you a time of deepening your knowledge of St. Vincent of the vocation of the congregation and a time of taking into serious account the challenges that we face in today’s world, if we want to remain faithful Vincentians. In the words of St. John in our second reading today, “…what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have touched with our hands” concerns not only “the words of life that has been made visible” but also the experience of Vincent and the vocation and mission of community. This is the mission we receive at the end of this session. We have seen and can testify to the great things that the lord has done for us, for our community. And in the gospel we hear Christ sending us.
With whom first of all, do we share this good news? To whom is Christ sending us? We are being sent with the good news first for the poor. No question about it, we are being sent, first of all to the poor.
The recent synod of bishops, was held in Rome just this October. In their final message, the bishops talk of two expressions of the life of faith that are authentic marks of the new evangelization. The first is the gift and experience of contemplation. The second is the face of the poor. The bishops tell us, ” Placing ourselves side by side with those who are wounded by life is not only a social exercise, but above all, a spiritual act because it is Christ’s face that shines in the face of the poor…. The presence of the poor in our communities is mysteriously powerful; it changes persons more than any discourse does, it preaches fidelity, it makes us understand the fragility of life, it asks for prayer: in short, it brings us to Christ.” (Message to the People of God , XIII General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 12)
“The presence of the poor in our communities…changes persons more than a discourse does.” One of you was speaking with me privately yesterday. He told me, “I see clearly that in the community we have many experts in Vincentianism; there are confreres who can talk eloquently about the vocation, the mission, the history, and the spirituality of the congregation. Yet in what really counts, we fail. Why? Because we don’t know the poor, we don’t know them enough, we don’t love them enough. Maybe that’s we don’t have many vocations.
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