Gaudete Sunday, 2021

    December 12, 2021

    I don’t know about you, but I could use some Elijah zeal right now. I am weary. It’s not the frenzy of the Christmas season. It’s our work.

    I’m guessing that the folks you see may be in a similar situation as ours. The eviction moratorium is over. Enhanced unemployment benefits have ended. Rents are rising faster than income. Federal relief dollars are painfully slow getting to landlords. Emergency shelters are full.

    Some people are still too scared by the pandemic or the unvaccinated to send their children to school or day care. They would rather risk eviction for the sake of their families. That wouldn’t be my choice. But, I’m not the parent. In all my years with The St. Vincent de Paul Society, I have never seen so much desperation. I have never felt so drained. All of our options right now seem to be emergency fixes. That can be exhausting.

    Then, I meet a single mother who is escaping an abusive situation in Louisiana. She and her two children have their entire worldly possessions packed in a minivan. They are so excited when I check them into a hotel and pay for a couple of weeks. I know that this is by no means a long-term solution. Neither was the manger where the greatest miracle in the world happened.

    Our work doesn’t fix every problem faced by people in need. Neither did the work of John the Baptist. I need to look at this ministry as a way to prepare the way of the Lord. We do the best we can, to bring the Light of the World to others. The Light that is reenergized every time we receive the Eucharist. That should also reenergize our zeal.

    Jack Murphy is a volunteer with The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He is president of the St. Thomas Aquinas conference in Alpharetta, GA and is national chair of Systemic Change and Advocacy for The Society. He also chairs the North Fulton Improvement Network (, a group of business, faith, community, and nonprofit leaders working to help more people reach financial stability in an affluent, and expensive, suburb.

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