Wanted: Help for the Lord’s Vineyard

Matthew 9: 32-38
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13 / Ps 115:3-10

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. . .
(Matthew 9:37)

The laborers are still few
In the vineyard of the Lord.
Who knows but Christ may be calling you
To spread the Good News of His Word.

While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:32-38)

Reflection

As He told His apostles then, Jesus may well be telling us today, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he may send laborers for His harvest,” because perhaps the greatest challenge facing our Church today is the dwindling number of priests and religious in proportion to the burgeoning population, the scarcity of shepherds to pasture the sheep, the lack of laborers for the ripened grain that must be reaped.

The vocation to the priesthood or religious life seems to have become irrelevant in this present age. In modern man’s preoccupation with his fast-changing world, a religious vocation is like a relic of the past, which bears little attraction compared to the pursuit of scientific or material achievement. Among the lower classes, the prime consideration in entering the seminary or convent seems to be either to avail of the free education and have hope for future opportunities, or simply to escape the grinding miseries of poverty. Either that or going abroad to work as domestic helper. Now more than ever, economic considerations prevail over vocational inclinations.

The shortage of priests in many parishes has resulted in the ‘clericalization’ of the laity for support of their church in spreading God’s Word, and in bringing the Holy Eucharist to those who cannot attend the celebration of the Holy Mass. Eucharistic lay ministers and the PSLs (Pangulo sa Liturhiya, or Leaders for the Liturgy) have been a big help to their parish priests in augmenting their ministry to the faithful.

There are other laborers in the vineyard as well who may not be as active in church activities, but also heed the call of the Lord of the harvest in harvesting souls for the kingdom. They may be businessmen or professionals, or even simple housewives, who have made a commitment to win souls by spreading the Word of God. For their contribution to the kingdom Jesus addresses His statement too. If more of their kind would only stand up to declare themselves for Jesus, the work of evangelization will no longer be as heavy for our priests and religious people.

Perhaps the lack of laborers in the Church could be due to the fact that not enough prayers are being sent to the Lord of the harvest for them.

Father God, touch the hearts of your faithful so that more of us will heed Your Son’s call to volunteer in mission work in our workplaces and outreaches. Amen.

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