Be the face of Christ - St Vincent de Paul Youth commissioning

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Home > Archbishop > Frontpage Message > Be the face of Christ - St Vincent de Paul Youth commissioning

If we were asked to summarise what it means to be a Christian, one way in which we could answer would be to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ and I serve those in need.”

Jesus, in his preaching, urged his followers to turn from a life focused on self and to believe in God. He said at the beginning of his public ministry, “Repent and believe, for the Kingdom of God is close at hand.” For each of us as Christians, the first call on us by the Lord is to believe in God and focus our lives on Him.

Jesus often said, “Your faith has saved you.” We need, firstly, to be men and women of faith. I encourage you, as you participate in the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society, to seek to grow closer to God. I encourage you to faithfully attend Mass, particularly every Sunday. Remember these words of the Lord, “Your faith will save you.” For Jesus, faith is the vital foundation for being a disciple of his.

The second defining characteristic of a Christian is expressed as love of neighbour. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment he replied that it was to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbour as yourself. Love should be the defining quality of the Christian – love of God and love of neighbour.
When Jesus was challenged to explain who we should regard as our neighbour, he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. I am sure you are familiar with it. It is important to note that the man who came to help the wounded man on the road was a Samaritan. He belonged to a group which the Jews rejected. The message is very clear: we do not only help those of our own kind. Jesus commanded us to help anyone who is in need.

On another occasion, Jesus offers us a guide as to how we will be judged at the end of our life. It is the parable, which I am sure you know, that of the sheep and the goats. Jesus clearly teaches that God will look at our lives and examine us as to whether we clothed the naked, housed the homeless, visited those in prison, cared for the sick. He said that when we do this we are not just doing it for the person themselves, but we are doing it for Him, for Jesus. Jesus identifies himself with the poor and suffering.

Tonight you are being inducted into the St Vincent de Paul Society Youth. I commend you that you have chosen to engage with the work of the Society. The St Vincent de Paul Society is one of the most important agents of the Church’s ministry to the poor. It was began by university students in Paris in 1833. Frederick Ozanam gathered some young friends around him and began visiting the poor in the Paris slums.

What is special about the St Vincent de Paul Society is that the members are not just interested in issues of social justice, but are interested in the real needs of people. Every week across the world thousands of members of the Society will visit people in their homes or meet them on the streets. They seek to connect in a personal way with those who are in need.

To be a Vincentian means that you want to engage personally with those who are in need. A Vincentian wants to be the face of Christ to the person in need. A Vincentian wants to bring not just practical help but genuine love for the person. A Vincentian carries out the command of the Lord to love your neighbour as yourself.

As in the Gospel teaching of the Lord we listened to this evening, as Christians we are to be witnesses to God’s love, mercy and forgiveness in the world today.

I encourage you to participate as much as you can in the work of St Vincent de Paul Society in this coming year. I pray that it will inspire you to have a greater compassion and care for those in need.

May the Lord abundantly bless each of you in the coming year.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Monday, 5 March 2018