Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Too often preachers, and others, read these words and see them as a call for “vocations”, by which they mean a call to enter religious life, either as a vowed religious, a nun or a monk, as a deacon, or especially as a priest. How can the work of God be done if there are no workers? And those workers must be priests. Now I understand the need to have more people entering these ways of following God’s call, I pray daily that more people do, especially that more will enter the priesthood. This is, however, a very narrow way to view what is meant by vocation, what is meant by being called by God. Jesus had a circle of followers, and among those he had an inner circle, those we have come to know as the Twelve Apostles. Traditionally the Twelve are seen as the first priests and bishops. So, logically, it would seem that when Jesus was sending out workers to prepare the way of his coming, he would send these proto-priests. Yet in this Gospel Jesus does not limit the persons sent to twelve. Rather he sends seventy-two. Jesus did not limit those sent to do his work to those we traditionally see as “priests”. He sent seventy-two followers. We do not know who they were. They could have been men, perhaps some were women. They may have been married or single. They may have been young or perhaps they were old, we simply do not know. What we do know is Jesus called them, and they answered the call. Our vocation is to hear that call as well. If we are young or old, man or woman, married or single, ordained clergy or not, we all have that same call. Spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ is not limited to those in Orders, or to those who have taken vows. Teaching about Jesus isn’t just the task of priests, or nuns, or monks, or even deacons. Sharing the Good News doesn’t belong just to them, it is God’s gift to all of us who believe, and it is God’s gift that all of us are called on to share. Taking Jesus to the world isn’t just their responsibility, it is our responsibility. The laborers are few because too few of us understand that we are the laborers. The vocation of sharing the Gospel is shared by all of us, all of us baptized into the Body of Christ. The harvest is abundant, and it is time to reap. Come, we have much work to do.
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 8, 2007