The Holy Gospel according to Matthew (9:35-10:1)
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.
Reflection: Today is the Memorial of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. I chose the Gospel for this memorial instead of the Gospel for the day because St. John Vianney’s life is the perfect example of this Gospel. He was born in 1786 in France. He grew up during the anticlerical terror phase of the French Revolution. During this time, he saw other priests who worked and ministered to people in secrecy because they faced execution. He saw the bravery of the priests and he considered them his heroes. This inspired his call to the priesthood. After attending seminary, St. John Vianney was ordained as a priest in 1815. After ordination to the priesthood, he was assigned to a small parish in Ars, a small town in southwestern France.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus’ heart was moved with pity at seeing the crowds, like sheep without a shepherd. St. John Vianney’s heart was also moved with pity at seeing the large number of people who came to him for spiritual counseling and reconciliation. It is said that he spent many hours in the confessional reconciling sinners. He was doing his part to bring people back to Christ. Today, this Gospel also tells us that there are many people in our environments who are lost and in need, like “sheep without a shepherd.” As disciples, we are called to be laborers in the kingdom of Heaven by bringing those who are troubled and abandoned to Christ. We are called to be Christlike and serve with hearts of mercy and compassion. We do this by accompanying them, being their friends, and bringing them to Christ. This is not an easy task to do, but it is possible with the grace of God. We are to work as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God. St. John Vianney died in 1859 and was canonized a saint in 1925.
Action for the day: As disciples, we are called to be laborers for God’s harvest. May we go out into our environments, seek those who are lost, troubled and in need and be Christlike to them and bring them to Christ.