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The Shepherd and His Flock – Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5a, 6-8
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I believe in your abiding presence, I hope in your boundless mercy, and I love you for who you are. Strengthen my faith, hope, and love all the same, Lord, for you know how weak I am. Lord, enflame me with your love, that I may bring it to others.
- The Heart of a Shepherd: Earlier this week, we meditated on the heart of Christ our King and read that his “heart was moved with pity” for the crowd who had nothing to eat. Here again, in today’s reading, his heart is moved with pity, this time as a shepherd, the Good Shepherd. God is love, and his heart is always moved with pity, even today as he looks out upon each one of us, those we love, and the whole world. He is inviting those of us who feel “troubled and abandoned” to deepen our relationship with the Good Shepherd.
- A Heart in Need of You: We have all heard the famous phrase “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few…” and we often associate these words with a call to pray for vocations, asking the Master of the harvest to send out laborers, his priests. However, this is really a call to all of us, since we are all called to holiness (cf. Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 39-42), and therefore to apostolate. We are called to be laborers in the harvest by nature of our very baptism. We, too, have been “summoned” by the Good Shepherd, and “given authority” to bring about his Kingdom in our lives.
- The Power of the Call: Christ’s apostles first had an intense encounter with his heart, before He sent them out to proclaim the good news. He renewed this encounter again and again, throughout his life, as we see here in this Gospel and elsewhere. This encounter endowed his apostles with the power to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” Miracles like this may not be happening left and right at our hands, but we have the power to bring Christ to souls by our witness so that he can work miracles in the lives of his sheep.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you. I ask this not simply so that I may feel good about myself and hide my light under a bushel basket. No, I ask this so that I may bring this love of yours to others, that they, too, may encounter you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will invite a friend to say a short prayer with me.
For Further Reflection: Want to read about some modern-day miracles?
Br. Brian Flanagan, LC, is a seminarian studying classical humanities with the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut. He is from Atlanta, Georgia, and has been in the Legion since 2016. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.