· Vatican City ·

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: 18 June

Workers in the Lord’s harvest

 Workers in the Lord’s harvest  ING-024
16 June 2023

We all still have eyes and hearts filled with amazement, gratitude and contemplation for the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist which we solemnly celebrated a few days ago.

The Eucharist is the heart of the life of the Church, it is the great treasure of our faith: Jesus, risen and alive, truly present in the celebration of Holy Mass and a living and true presence in every Tabernacle throughout the whole world. Contemplating and adoring the Eucharist also means rekindling the awareness that at the beginning of our Christian life there was an act of gratuitous love: For God loved us first!

As the book of Exodus reminds us: “You yourselves have seen what I have done to Egypt and how I have lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me”. We have been relieved of our human condition and admitted to the divine life. We have been freed from our condition as sinners by virtue of the greatest act of friendship, summed up by St Paul as follows: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. The totality of God’s love, which unfolded itself in history and reached its peak on Golgotha, is condensed into the celebration of the Eucharist. Every time the Church celebrates Holy Mass, this whole story really and truly re-presents itself in an eminent and singular form.

The Lord never tires of loving us and even when He sees our fragile humanity immersed in the tumultuous vicissitudes that surround us or in the bottlenecks of our daily life, every single time, He “feels compassion”. Jesus feels the urgent need to reach out to each and every one, to bestow His lasting peace, fullness and joy, that is: His Friendship, Truth, and Salvation.

Therefore, to fulfill His wish, He decides to make use of collaborators, who prolong and make His work of salvation spread throughout the world. The harvest is from the Father, the work is from Jesus, the power from the Holy Spirit. Those called should be humble and generous workers, ready to give whatever the cost.

Humble, because they are aware of their smallness and unworthiness. Generous, because they are willing to accept the radical gift of giving themselves in imitation of Jesus.

The Love that is at the beginning of history and at the beginning of every action of God transforms everything it touches. When it touches a heart and soul to make that person a worker in the harvest, it transforms that individual from being a servant into being a true friend, capable of doing the same works as Him, in his own name and as his person (in persona Christi).

There are many categories of people in the Church who generously give themselves as workers in the Lord’s harvest: parents, who give their lives and educate their family within the circle of marriage; consecrated persons, who testify to us some of the traits of eternal life; the contemplatives, who keep humanity’s gaze fixed on things above; the missionaries, who proclaim the Gospel to those who do not yet know it; the charity workers, who in various forms serve suffering humanity “so often rejected and left by the roadside of life”; the theologians, who scrutinize the unfathomable riches of God and of His living Word. All are beautiful lives. All are precious vocations for the Church. Of all of them, however, one is necessary and irreplaceable: that of the priest. Only the Priest can absolve us from our sins. Only the priest can celebrate the Mass and give us the Eucharist.

If we really believe in the Love of Jesus, if we really feel the need and if we are sure that all the love of Jesus passes through His forgiveness and the gift of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, we should immediately feel the urgency to obey Jesus’ command: therefore pray the lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest! Dear brothers and sisters, no Christian can withdraw from this joyful commitment: for our very life depends on it.

Let us remember that priests are also fragile humans, poor sinners, but they are transformed by the Grace of God for the good of their fellow brothers and sisters. Without Priests the Church cannot exist: and therefore we cannot be insensitive to the decline of numbers in our seminaries; we cannot remain indifferent if the lives of priests are not as holy as the Lord would wish, and so I invite you: Pray for the sanctification of priests, pray for priestly vocations, educating the new generations to the availability of the gift of self for the service of the Lord and the salvation of souls. For surely this is the concrete way of obeying the command of Jesus contained in this Gospel of today.

*  Custody of the Holy Land

By Fr Luke Gregory ofm *