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Laborers for His Harvest
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.” The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, let me ponder deeply these words of Scripture and have them enter both my mind and my heart. Grant me the grace to be courageous in responding to your call, certain that you protect your lambs, especially when we are sent out among wolves.
- Appointed as Emissaries: Thirty-six pairs of the Lord’s followers were sent to multiply the impact of John the Baptist, who had previously been singularly called by God the Father to “Prepare the way for the Lord” (Mark 1:3). Jesus had been cultivating quite a following, and he assessed that many of them were ready to be his hands, feet, and voice in the world. Jesus stated that their destinations were all places he intended to go. We don’t know from the historical record whether Jesus himself ever made the trek to each of these towns. Perhaps this would prove unnecessary, as Christ was spiritually making these visits through his disciples. These emissaries effectively served as the “body of Christ” of which St. Paul would later speak (1 Corinthians 12:27). We rejoice in the hope that these members of Christ’s body are now part of the “cloud of witnesses” that prays for those who continue this evangelizing work.
- The Abundant Harvest: Jesus assured his disciples that the mission fields into which they would travel were ripe for a harvest; many hearts would be thirsting to be exposed to the Gospel message of mercy, and many bodies and souls would be yearning to be healed. If anything, the mission fields have only further ripened over the years. In 1990, St. John Paul II wrote in Redemptoris Missio: “The number of those who do not know Christ and do not belong to the Church is constantly on the increase. Indeed, since the end of the Council it has almost doubled. When we consider this immense portion of humanity which is loved by the Father and for whom he sent his Son, the urgency of the Church’s mission is obvious.” May we have the grace and courage to be an effective Christian witness in our home and in our workplace, overcoming any fear of being a lamb among wolves.
- The Dearth of Laborers: When Jesus told the seventy two that the “laborers are few,” he instructed them to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers.” Prayers for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life continue to be sorely needed in all parts of our modern world, and some of the mission fields that need the most urgent attention are areas that saw some of the earliest spread of Christianity. As a response to this urgent need for laborers, and two years before writing Redemptoris Missio, St. John Paul II implored all lay Catholics to play their part in revealing Christ’s love to those who haven’t yet had a meaningful encounter with the Word made flesh. His Apostolic Exhortation entitled Christifideles Laici states: “You go too. The call is a concern not only of pastors, clergy, and men and women religious. The call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world. In preaching to the people, St. Gregory the Great recalled this fact and commented on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard: ‘Keep watch over your manner of life, dear people, and make sure that you are indeed the Lord’s laborers. Each person should take into account what he does and consider if he is laboring in the vineyard of the Lord.’”
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to be your voice in this hungry and thirsty world as a lay person, and I pray that more men and women will hear your call to the priesthood and consecrated life. By your grace, may I be an effective witness to my family members, neighbors, and those in my social circle with my words and example.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for vocations with a prayer I know, or with this one: “Lord Jesus, eternal Shepherd, in your kindness look with mercy on your beloved flock. We cry out to you as orphans: Lord, grant us vocations! Call many of our young people to be holy priests and consecrated men and women. We ask you this through the intercession of Mary, your tender, holy Mother.”
For Further Reflection: Read article 2 of Pope Francis’s Gaudete et Exsultate, reflecting on that “cloud of witnesses” that supports us in our evangelizing efforts: “The saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us. The Book of Revelation attests to this when it speaks of the intercession of the martyrs: ‘I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge?”’ (6:9-10). Each of us can say: ‘Surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God… I do not have to carry alone what, in truth, I could never carry alone. All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me.’”
Andrew Rawicki and his wife JoAnna live in Irving, Texas, near eight of their ten grandchildren. A convert from Judaism, Andrew entered the Church in 1991, and has been a member of the Regnum Christi spiritual family since 2001. He has served as the Regnum Christi Local Director for Dallas since July 2020.