Reflecting on James 5:1-6
Today is the feast day of one of the greatest figures in church history, and yet many of us know very little about St. Vincent de Paul. Let’s take a moment to remember him.
It appears that his main incentive for becoming a priest (in the year 1600) was to have a comfortable life. Can’t you just hear Pope Francis railing against a cleric like that? His conversion occurred after hearing the deathbed confession of a poor servant of his employer, the Countess de Gondi. He was so moved by him that he dedicated his life to serving galley-slaves from North Africa, victims of war, and those who were poor in many different ways.
Boy does that sound familiar. This French saint, and his great friend St. Louise de Marillac, would be right there on the front lines today, feeding and comforting and binding up the wounds of those millions who are fleeing Syria and Iraq and Africa right this minute.
St. Louise founded the Daughters of Charity as the first non-cloistered community of women, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.”
The letter of James today rails against the rich who cheat the poor. But the life-saving works that St. Vincent de Paul put into place in 17th century France were dependent upon the consistent, faithful generosity of the rich. He had close friends who were wealthy, and friends who were impoverished. So did Jesus.
I thank God for blessing with wealth all those who give it away so graciously.
Have you ever considered joining the St. Vincent de Paul Society?