The Gospel, according to Matthew (9:35-38)
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.”
REFLECTION: The Gospel begins with; “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” …Jesus was on the move. He was on the going!
So, the first thing that stands to me from the Gospel is the word “went.” Do you know what it reminded me of? It particularly reminded me of the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Whatever we think of the Great Commission, we can honestly say that Jesus did what He instructed us to do.
Behind all ministry is the push into new and perhaps uncomfortable places. For example, one of the ministries which lacks volunteers it is to visit and minister the incarcerated. It pushes one into uncomfortable places and with people considered by most of society that they are all untrustworthy, violent, and dangerous.
That was also my thinking when I was first invited into a juvenile hall. “Throw away the key, let them rot in there, they deserve to be there,” I used to say. Society has thrown away these people.
I have found that most are not like that. Most feel remorse for their actions. They are trying to rise above the bad choices of the past and live good lives.
Jesus had special insight into these people. Now, I do not mean that it is so special that we cannot gain it. The point that Jesus is teaching us is that we ought to have the same perspective.
Jesus had great compassion on the crowds. There were lots of people out there who needed help.
He saw their distress and inability to help themselves. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Lost people. Suffering people.
Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
This is the part of the passage that moves my heart when it says that the harvest was plentiful. This meant that people were ready to be plucked by God’s grace. Like a full golden stalk of wheat as it hangs down at harvest time. I would agree people were lost, but I could not see the harvest.
Part of the problem was that I had lost sight of people’s real needs. My compassion ran near empty. I just didn’t see how the Father worked.
If there was a harvest out there, would you not do something about it?
Imagine, that you had strawberries growing in your backyard and they were nice and red, are you going to let them sit there? I don’t know about you, if it was me, I would be harvesting them immediately. Otherwise, they will be eaten by the birds or harmed by some bug.
When we are convinced, there is a harvest as Jesus says, then we ought to look and live differently. Thus, we will shift our priorities.
You, me, we can make a difference. The evil one does not want us to know this. He will hide us away, trying to make us think differently while the lost die. But once we are convinced that God will do more because of what we do, then we will see how urgent we must make His work a priority.
ACTION FOR THE DAY: As we honor the memorial of today’s great saint, ponder the ways that you can put your empathetic heart into action. We are all called to care for the sick, poor, incarcerated and suffering in various ways. We are all responsible to help share the Gospel with those God puts in our lives. Allow St Vincent de Paul to inspire you, as he has so many others, and do not hesitate to respond to that inspiration.