The Harvest is Abundant
Bishop Peter Muhich
Homily from the Televised Mass, NewsCenter1
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 3, 2022
The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send laborers for this harvest. Go on your way.
Today is actually the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. The bishop made a little mistake at the beginning of Mass. Sometimes he gets things wrong hopefully not the big things, maybe the small things, but this is the Fourteenth Sunday if you’re paging though your Sunday Missals.
The Lord talks about the abundant harvest and the need for laborers to gather in his harvest. It is summer in western South Dakota, and once again it seems that the whole world comes to visit us. I-90 is filled with SUVs, trailers, campers, boats, and of course motorcycles. And during the rally in Sturgis, in August, the number of visitors will jump an even higher level. These big crowds in the summer and the high of population growth in west river now these days, are concrete reminder that the harvest is abundant.
In today’s Gospel, passage from Luke, the Lord Jesus sends out the 72 disciples in pairs to every town and village he intends to visit during his journey to Jerusalem. He’s turned, in Luke’s gospel now we heard that last Sunday quite resolutely, from Galilee now towards Jerusalem, and will we be reading these passages from Luke where the Lord makes his journey to the holy city knowing that his passion and death await him there.
This Sunday he’s talking about the harvest. He’s also showing the disciples and he gives them real authority to go out and make disciples encounter the Kingdom of darkness. Even the demons we hear are subject to his disciples because of his name. This passage where the Lord sends them out to gather in the harvest contains the Lord’s words that, “the harvest is abundant.” It was then and still is now. The Lord himself has planted the seeds and like his first disciples we are sent to gather in the harvest. How are we to do this? How are we to do this?
Well, I have one reminder and two suggestions, well they’re more than suggestions, exhortations to help us to accomplish this task. First a reminder. The reminder is this, that this work belongs to all of us. We were commissioned for it at our baptism and equipped for it in our confirmation with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We really can’t say that it’s the priest’s job, or the sister’s job, or the pope’s job, or the bishop’s job, as if it were not also our job. This work of gathering the harvest belongs to all of us because of our baptism and confirmation. So that’s the reminder. This is our common work together. Nobody sits on the sidelines when it comes to this.
And now the two exhortations. First our parishes have to be welcoming communities that evangelize and pray for vocations. That should be a hallmark of our parishes — that they welcome people and that they really do implore God to provide vocations. How do you do this? How do you become a welcoming community that evangelizes and prays for vocations? Well first, be intentional about it. Be intentional about gathering the harvest in your local parish. That’s the mission right where you live. And don’t be afraid to try different things when promoting vocations. There not all going to work, at least not all work in the same way, but try things. Brainstorm is part of this — realizing that God has a plan for each one of us. So, we have the confidence that we know he’s already at work, speaking to and knocking on the door of every human heart. So be creative, try different things knowing the Lord is already calling.
Second, pray the prayer the prayer for vocations that we have for the diocese at every Mass in your parish and your homes. This is important as I said at the ordination of Father Joshua Lee this past week, to create a culture of prayer for vocations that counters all the noise and distortion of our secular culture. It really does have a spiritual impact, and kind of clear the space out in your local parish community, and it teaches these young people that God is calling. So, pray the diocesan prayer for vocations. We’ll do it here during this Mass at the end of the intercessions.
And provide encounters with Jesus by having prayerful, joyful liturgies, Sunday Masses, and times of adoration where the Lord can simply be present to young people, and they can be present to him. That way they’ll be much more able answer his call. Again, it kind of cuts through all the noise of the culture and gives them these times of encounter at Sunday Mass and adoration, so they can come to know the Lord. So, some suggestions on how our parishes can be welcoming and evangelizing and real places of prayer for vocations.
And the second exhortation, is that as you pray that prayer for vocations, ask the Lord to help you notice those he’s calling. This kind of prayer focuses us and gives God greater permission to look through us.
“Lord, show me those who you could be calling to a religious vocation or the priesthood.” Watch. Observe young men and women in your parish. If they are reverent and prayerful let them know that you notice that. You can tell them that they could have a heart for a religious vocation. It’s really that simple. Studies show that when a priest or even any parishioner approaches a young person about you know, “have you thought about a vocation? I see this in you” That has a big impact.
The harvest has never been more abundant. And the Lord does not cease to call young men and women to serve him as priests, deacons, brothers, and sisters. And certainly, to serve him as spouses in holy marriages. Like the 72, we have been conditioned by baptism and confirmation to go and make disciples. God desires to bless our diocese with holy marriages and vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.