The Gospel according to Matthew (9:32-38)
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus,
and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.
The crowds were amazed and said,
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said,
“He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, Your heart was so filled with love for all, for those on the margins, and for those that many thought unlovable. You even have love for me, even though I do not deserve it. Help me to see my job to be a laborer with You in bringing the Good News to all by what I say and especially by what I do today and every day. Amen.
My wife and I have been watching a program online called “The Chosen”. It’s a re-telling of the story of Jesus, focusing mainly on those who were chosen by Him to be His first disciples. It’s really a very-well done show! The reason for mentioning it is that we just watched the episode where Jesus heals the man at the Pool of Bethesda, where only the first one to the water when it was stirred up was thought to be healed. The man in question had been there for years and never was able to be the first one to get to the water at the right moment. Those who were able to reach the water first always seemed to have someone to help them or carry them to the water. That poor man had no one to help him, until Jesus arrived.
We all know the story, as we know that Jesus healed the man without him having to go to the water at all. The point, though, is that what he ultimately had was the help he had been missing all those years. It connects with our Gospel today, as Jesus Himself is saying that the master of the harvest needs to send more laborers to help with his harvest. He means that Jesus Himself needs us to share in the labor with Him.
On the one hand, Jesus, as God, probably does not really *need* us to help with the labor. He is God. He can do anything! No, it’s more that God longs for us to share in His labor, because it can bring us closer to Him. What we do doesn’t add anything to the glory and majesty of God. He already has infinite glory and infinite majesty. God loved each of us, though, and wants for us to share in that glory, and to become beacons of His love to others.
God doesn’t demand that we share in the labor. We have free will and can choose to do what we think is the right thing. God’s love, though, calls us to consider that choosing our own aims really won’t give us what we need, which is fulfillment and joy. Those only come from working along with a higher calling, the one each of us who are baptized has as a son or daughter of God.
What can each of us to do participate in the labor of God? Some may be called to do it through ordained service, or as a missionary, sharing the Gospel somewhere. Others may be called to share in that ministry through volunteer work with the less fortunate, or helping by praying for others. There is a job for each of us. Even with small steps, we can help in the labor of God. We just have to ask for the grace to know what it is that we can do, and then the courage and the ability to do that task, however we can.
That really is all that God asks of us. Let us be open to that request from God, and be willing to answer, “Here, Lord. Send me!”
Closing Prayer: Loving God, let me take time today to listen for Your voice in my heart. Please let me hear You, speaking to me, and then to act as Your hands, Your feet, Your voice, Your love with someone who most needs it today. Amen.
Action for the Day: Listen for that voice of God in your heart today. Ask God to show You how to share a little bit of His light and His love with someone that He places in your path today. And, when it happens, ask that you be willing to do that act of love and charity, and be thankful that You are a laborer with Him today!