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July 3, 2022: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Associate Pastor’s Corner

“The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” –Luke 10:2

Even as Jesus sends out his seventy-two appointed disciples ahead of him to proclaim the Kingdom of God, he first commands them to pray; not so much that they may find success, but that the number of spreaders of the Good News might increase.  “Ask the master of the harvest to send our laborers for his harvest.”  This short line reveals much about how God works in the world to build his kingdom. 

First, Jesus doesn’t do everything himself, but rather he sends out delegates, representatives, messengers, and forerunners.  God, being all powerful, technically doesn’t need our help to do anything.  But for our sake, that we may share in his mission and thus his glory, he appoints, anoints, and apostolizes us to work on his behalf.  Jesus really does rely upon his disciples to prepare his way, this is not to make work or an excuse to keep us on the heavenly payrolls; without our cooperation, the Good News does not spread.  As St. Paul asks the Romans: “How can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?”  Jesus didn’t teach his disciples to just throw up their hands in the face of difficulty and say “Jesus, you handle it,” rather he entrusts them with the mission. 

Second, God has already done the hardest part.   Consider what it takes for there to be an abundant harvest of grapes in a vineyard.  First, there is the seed itself, which is a minor miracle, that from a tiny brown spec can come a beautiful fruit-bearing plant many times the size.  How does this happen? Only God knows exactly.  Then, the seeds must be carefully planted in the right location, fertilized, and watered.  The sprouting vines must be carefully pruned and arranged on trellises, protected from bugs, wild animals, disease, frost, thieves, etc.  God, the master of the harvest, has already planted the miraculous seed of conversion in the hearts of our neighbors and carefully tended it.  We don’t have to do any of that hard work, we simply are called to pluck the ripe fruit.

Third, God does not believe in forced labor.  Even knowing that there is much fruit that risks rotting on the vine, God does not force us into the field like a general commanding troops.  God wants our simple participation, through our prayers, to inspire more people to gather in the fruit that he has already brought to maturity.  Who among of us is unable to pray?

The harvest really is abundant, the laborers really are too few, so let us all pray and ask the master of the harvest to send out labors for his harvest.  And as we do, let us also pray for three of the newest Dominican laborers: newly ordained priests Fr. Matthew Heynen, Fr. Joshua Gatus, and Fr. Joseph Selinger!  

                 -Fr. Christopher Wetzel OP


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