There was no needy person among them (Acts 4, 34)
As one who manages well his household, Jean de Paul sends his son Vincent to school. He sees in the boy promising qualities that may well help the family get out of poverty.
The youth succeeds. He is ordained priest at age 19. He loses no time in searching for what will be good for himself and his family, for clerical advantages, for influential friendships. Despite the “disasters” that have robbed him of the chance for the hankered-after promotion, he continues to hope that God will soon grant him “the means of an honorable retirement” that will allow him to spend the rest of his days near his mother (Coste I, 18)—leading, of course, a well-managed life so as not to suffer the shortages plaguing peasants.
But by God’s designs, Vincent’s talents are not to be squandered. Providence makes him learn by experience that no guarantee of protection against calumnies or anxieties is given to one locked up in his own interests. He makes it known to him that only those who wholly commend themselves into God’s hands and show their faith, even if through simple gestures, are established in truth and certainty. Above all, God reveals to him the stewardship exemplified by Jesus.
Such stewardship has nothing to do with serving mammon, with looking out for one’s own interests, with securing for oneself material or physical comfort, with worrying about food, clothing and other things that one needs to live. Christian stewards look out for others’ interests and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, which guarantees that they will be given the other things besides.
Stewards after Jesus’ heart are poor and absolutely depend on God. They do not refuse to be numbered among the poor. They insist rather on being in solidarity with them, denouncing the unscrupulous who, focused solely on making profit, trample upon the needy and destroy the poor. Clever stewards forgive debts, for the presence of the poor in the land, need, should serve, not to divide, but rather to unite (Dt 15, 5. 7. 11). They, of course, offer supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, so that we may all lead a quiet and tranquil life. But they do not neglect to proclaim to all, especially to those responsible for the future of the human community, that there is no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness (Pope John Paul II).
And if we Christians genuinely partake of the Eucharist, which comes from love that is inventive to infinity, to cite St. Vincent (XI, 146), then we will do everything possible so that it may not be said of us who claim to be children of the light that the children of this world are more prudent than us. Imitating St. Vincent, a very creative person though in a gentle and almost imperceptible way, we will strive to evangelize the poor by words and by works, comforting them, providing for their spiritual and temporal needs, assisting them and having them assisted in every way, by ourselves and by others (XII, 87).