Gospel: (Matthew 10:26-33)
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one…And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before by heavenly Father.
The gospel speaks of the fear that the disciples would have in facing opposition. When we are compassionate—sent out to serve the poor—we also will face opposition and persecution. This doesn’t mean censorship or physical hardship only. It does mean that our lives must embody the care and compassion of God. The mission of discipleship ought not be undertaken lightly, because there will also be persecution. Neither, however, ought the mission be undertaken with trepidation because God does not abandon us. (Living Liturgy, p.176)
Vincent often cautioned against “undisciplined enthusiasm,” a false zeal that springs from desire for praise or from anger. Unlike true zeal, compulsions take on a hard edge of self-righteousness or paralyzing preoccupation with self: what I do, rather than what God wants done. True zeal sets a person on fire with love of God, with the realization that all gifts and all power come from God. Thus, true zeal is humble but courageous in the face of scorn and persecution. True zeal acts with charity, not out of a desire to manipulate, or out of trendy do-goodism. Christian zeal models itself on Jesus’ zeal to proclaim the Good News of God’s love and to heal the wounds of suffering people. (McKenna, Praying with Vincent, p.92)
Discussion: (Share your thoughts on the readings after a moment of silence.)
When have we seen “true zeal” in our Conference?
O God, you inspire Vincentians to have zeal in their service,
-help us to serve always with respect and gentleness.
O God, you send us to serve the poor and the suffering,
-help us to face opposition and persecution.
O God, you told us that you will acknowledge us before your heavenly Father,
–help us to acknowledge you before others.
O God, you told us to not be afraid,
-help us to know that you are always with us. Amen