Gospel: (Luke 17:5-10)
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “…Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending the sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”
The apostles’ request of Jesus to “increase (their) faith” is made in the face of the seemingly impossible demands of discipleship. Jesus answers by illustrating what faithful discipleship looks like. The servant has been laboring all day in the field, but more is yet to be done. The work of the disciples is never completed. Discipleship is never-ending. To be a disciple means to be a servant. Here faith means faithfulness, that is, faithfulness in service. The faith-filled person puts in an honest day’s work. That person is gracious to those with whom he or she comes in contact. That person is ready to reach out and help another, even beyond one’s own work load. That person does not judge or condemn others. The faith-filled person sees Jesus in the other and responds to the situation with Jesus’ love and mercy. Faith is faithfulness in action. (Living Liturgy, p.220)
We are called to be servants of the poor. And, mercy, says Vincent, is the “proper attribute of God himself.” Mercy is a facet of charity that calls us, first to identify in spirit with the other person. For instance, St.Vincent tells us, “To be compassionate toward the sufferings of our neighbor and to weep with him…to soften our hearts and to render them responsive to their sufferings and miseries.” Indeed, “love gains for us an entrance into the hearts of others.” Mercy calls as well for outward signs or gestures. As St. Vincent observed, “Heart and hand should go together as far as possible.” Consequently, he urges, “Weep with your poor and your sick. God has appointed you to be their consolation…Serve the poor with gentleness, compassion and love.” (Melito, St. Vincent de Paul “Windows on His Vision”, p. 139)
Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
Is our Vincentian service filled with mercy, where heart and hand go together?
Lord, increase our faith,
-give us compassionate hearts filled with mercy.
Lord, give us the grace to weep with those we serve,
-forgive us the times when we judged or condemned them.
Lord, may we bring consolation to those who are suffering,
–may our heart and hand always go together.