“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).
As the Gospel of John states, Jesus is the light of the world. In contrast the devil is the darkness of the world. With our God given free will there is always a choice for us as humans, choosing to follow our savior in light, or submitting to the temptation of evil. Every human is tested by the events of our daily life on earth. We all face temptation. Evil preys on us particularly when we are discouraged and have given up. Evil tells us that life is impossible and that there is no hope.
In today’s world it is harder than ever to remain hopeful. The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. We lived through months of quarantine. We have been conditioned to stand six feet away from others. We shout to each other from a “safe” distance. Greeting a friend with a hug is no longer normal behavior. A simple trip to the grocery store now includes wearing a mask, one way aisles, six feet of separation between customers and Plexiglas shields in front of workers. We all wonder when this will end and things will return to the way we once knew.
At the same time it’s easy to give up hope when we see so much destruction and violence in our communities, with even young children falling victim to stray bullets. Fires have been set, historical monuments and statues have been destroyed, and churches and religious statues have been targeted. Times seem darker than many of us have ever seen in our lifetime. We cannot give up hope though. When we are tested by evil, we develop virtue and the goodness of charity becomes apparent. For every act of evil we encounter, there is someone else performing an act of kindness.
The members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia are steadfastly working to perform acts of kindness in these times of despair. The St. Vincent de Paul Society works to help those in our community who find themselves struggling, whether they need basic necessities like food or shelter, or emotional support and counsel. They work to help those who have lost all hope to find it again. There is beauty in works of charity, which helps transform both the giver and the receiver and restores hope in both parties.
We must trust in God’s plan. We must have faith that God will not abandon us. He has forgiven our sins and opened up the gates of heaven and is always there for us. As Saint Theresa said, “Let nothing disturb you. All things are passing. God never changes.”
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life, including through participation and building up the community. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”