As they were going out, a demoniac who could not speak was brought to him, and when the demon was driven out the mute person 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.” (Matthew 9: 32-38)
What a tender and poignant Gospel.
Matthew tells us Jesus’ heart exploded with pity for the crowds because they were like abandoned sheep without a shepherd. And so, he turned to his disciples and told them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Jesus had already spent days teaching these hungry crowds in their synagogues, curing every disease and illness and casting out demons. There was a need for urgent need for hardworking collaborators. He knew there would also be a pressing demand for such coworkers whose hearts likewise would be so moved with mercy that they would follow Jesus in caring for the vast crowds. And so, Jesus gave an imperative with no expiration date.
That imperative exists more than 2,021 years and it is directed at you and me. That imperative tells us to step out in faith and help those who, for one reason or another, are in need of love, understanding, forgiveness, loneliness and on and on.
We are to be the presence of God to others. At the heart of the gospel today is the conviction that our God is not absent, is not idle, but active. Through the resurrection of Jesus, God is working to establish a kingdom, a kingdom of justice, of peace and of love. We believe that that kingdom is being established through God’s power and through our cooperation.
Believers are always on the look-out to see signs of that kingdom, signs of God’s presence in our world. Because Christians are looking for those signs, their lives are characterized by joy and hope.
Christians are a joyful people because each time that we see a sign of God’s presence, we rejoice. Each time medical science takes another step towards conquering a terrible disease, we rejoice because we recognize that it is God’s action and power directing that development. Each time warring nations put down their arms and establish peace, we celebrate because we see that action as one step closer to God’s kingdom. Every time that we survive a difficult period in our marriage, recognize a family member has moved towards reconciliation, or learn that our child or our grandchild is born healthy and safe, we celebrate. We see in all of these events the signs of God establishing the kingdom.
We are also people of hope, because when evil strikes, we do not give up. When innocent children die of a terrible disease, when thousands of people are killed in war, when greed and selfishness characterize our culture, we do not stop believing that God is present. Instead, we hope that God is active in a way that we cannot yet perceive.
When someone we love is struck with cancer, when our marriage ends, when someone we trust betrays us, we continue to hope that God will still save us. We look forward to a future in which God’s action and love will become clear.
Other people will look at the blessings of life and the heartbreaks of life and interpret them differently. It is only with the gift of faith and our willingness to accept it that we can see God’s action among us. When we do, we also recognize that we are the people of faith who rejoice at blessings and reach out a healing presence when there is despair.
To be joyful, to have hope, to be a sign of God’s presence on earth. That’s what we are called to be. To allow our faith to strengthen and embolden us. Our faith will always sustain us. Our faith will grow when we reach out in love and in His light. How blessed are we to be people of faith. How blessed are we that when we step forward in faith we are strengthened by His love. How blessed are we to be called laborers in his vineyard.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come to all who are oppressed and in darkness. Fill my heart with compassion for all who suffer mentally and physically. Use me to bring the good news of your saving grace and mercy to those around me who need your healing love and forgiveness.”
“Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed God’s kingdom is made manifest and new life and freedom is given to those who respond with faith. The Lord grants freedom to all who turn to him with trust. Do you bring your troubles to the Lord with expectant faith that he can set you free? The Lord invites us to pray that the work of the Gospel may spread throughout the world, so that all may find true joy and freedom in Jesus Christ.”