12-07-23 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

12-07-23 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

12-07-23 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

At Masses on the last weekend of November we all celebrated The Solemnity of Christ the King. The Gospel reading was from Matthew 25:31-46. That is a reading that I am sure every Vincentian is very familiar with. It is my favorite Gospel reading, without a doubt.

In that reading, Jesus articulates, clearly and directly, what we are called to do if we are to be saved at the final judgement. He could not be clearer. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, care for the ill, and visit those imprisoned. Because when we serve those hungry, thirsty, naked, ill, strangers or imprisoned persons, we are in fact serving Him. And when we ignore those people, we are turning our back on Christ.

As I said, Jesus is clear and precise in what he says. He is also clear and precise in what he DOES NOT say. In all my 68 years of hearing the Gospel of Matthew, I have yet to hear a qualifier on those requirements for salvation.

Jesus said, “For I was hungry, and you gave me food.” He did NOT say “For I was hungry, and you gave me food because I lived in the Parish boundaries.”

Jesus said, “For I was naked, and you clothed me.” He did NOT say “For I was naked, and you clothed me because I resided in your Zip Code.

 That reading is something we should be contemplating as we look at the blessings which our Conferences have in money and people. And how we are using those blessings to help not only the people in our Parish or Conference/Council boundaries; but how we are proactively sharing those blessing with other Conferences and Council who may not be as blessed.

Twinning is a wonderful tool for us to serve our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who are not in our immediate ‘service area’.  Twinning gives us a way to share our blessing with others who we may not see through our encounters with people we serve.

But are we being proactive in our twinning efforts, or reactive?  Are we waiting for other Councils and Conferences to contact us, or are we reaching out and asking who needs help? Every time we pray in our meetings, we ask God to help us “Seek and find the suffering and deprived.”  Are we actively seeking ways to share our excess?

Of course, we need to be good stewards of the gifts we are given, and we have to keep some of our funds in reserves to get through unexpected rough times. But once we have an adequate level of those reserves, we should be seeking opportunities to help the suffering and deprived.

As we enter this season of Advent and Christmas, let us dedicate ourselves to being proactive in becoming gift bearers to our fellow Vincentians near and far so that they may seek and find the suffering, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and follow Christ’s call to salvation.

Peace and God’s blessings,

John Berry
National President

  • dearest John.. great reflection on Matthew 25…. love. absolutely love “For I was naked, and you clothed me because I resided in your Zip Code.”…right on!! Also our conference had an experience of seek and find the forgotten and deprived… we did a publicity article about our receiving a large transportation grant and our local nursing and assisted living social worker called with an idea as how we could work together to help the elderly and disabled… we developed together a great transportation coalition project and she reports that those who participate have changed emotionally….now that they are able to use transportation FREE for 10 rides a month….who knew we would find a great project to benefit her population…..Vincent wanted to ensure that we continue to seek and find new ways to be of service. Thanks John a great opportunity for the new year!!!
    Jeanne Harper

  • Tommye Grant, Past NCN December 12, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    Matthew – gift from God. So appropriate. Gifts are freely given and what better way than to those who need a lift. Squabbling over jurisdictions is definitely ungodly. Remember the words of Reagan, tear down those walls! Good advice for Germany all those years ago and good advice for us today.

    ADCC Washington and member conferences have long twinned with one another from DC to Southern MD. It’s a bigger pot to help our neighbors in need.

  • Thank you for this article. I will play devil’s advocate, although in 2024 he needs no more advocates, temporary or otherwise.

    We certainly don’t want to get involved with squabbles over zip codes, but the way the Society is set up is ingenious, with every church taking care of its own neighborhood. This way, we AREN’T trying to change the world. But we certainly are trying to change our little 12-block area.

    Can a St. Vincent dePaul Conference change the world? Technically, yes. A single person can change the world. There have been several bad actors in history who have done it. Frederic Ozanam changed the world all by himself, and if that wasn’t already difficult enough, he did it the even harder way by raising an army to heal instead of raising an army to destroy. I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone who thinks they can change the world for the good but you would have to do something on the level of what Frederic did.

    Our conference is not trying to change the world. We are trying to change our neighborhood. On every home visit, we are inviting our friends to take part in receiving God’s grace, which is an underserved gift. How can we get it, they want to know. “You ask God for it”. How much can I get? “As much as you want”. But how much does that cost? “It’s totally free.”

    We start there. And if we can’t sell that message, then shame on us.

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