Why are the Labourers Always Few?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).
Yesterday, we saw three examples of vocations. One who came forward on his own to follow Jesus with a wrong motive, one who was called by Jesus but gave an excuse and one who came with a double mindset. The evangelization drive of Jesus which began in yesterday’s reading actually bore fruits as we see that Jesus is now sending out seventy others, two by two in today’s Gospel passage.
Note that seventy is a very significant number.
In Numbers 11:16, God told Moses to select seventy elders upon whom the spirit of the Lord would descend enabling them with power to assist Moses. By appointing seventy, Jesus was passing on a very strong message; He is the new Moses and that this seventy would receive the Holy Spirit to serve as His assistants.
Nevertheless, according to Jesus, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” meaning that the work is always going to be more than the labourers available. The question is: why is there such an imbalance? Why is it that those who find themselves embracing the work of God become overwhelmed with too much work even to the point of mental exhaustion, fatigue, burn-out and even depression?
The answer is simple; that even the labourers who assist Jesus need others to assist them.
As laypersons, we cannot afford to leave the work of evangelization entirely to the ordained clergy. According to Monsignor Nwaezeapu “In a study in the U.S., in response to the Question: Is spreading the Gospel a priority for your Church? 76% of the Protestants answered Yes; 57% of the African American Churches answered Yes, but only 6% of Catholics saw the spreading of the Gospel as a priority…. Yet, the first sign of a spiritually healthy Church or society is its ability to go out on mission.”
Monsignor continues: “All Catholics have charisms (the spiritual gifts) of the Holy Spirit bestowed on us during Baptism and Confirmation for the building up of the Church, but sadly, over 90% of us do not even know this and do not use these gifts, to the detriment of the Church’s mission and growth.
Worse still, many have gone to their graves carrying these used gifts with them.”
In our first reading this morning, we see how the people were touched when they heard the word of God read to them by Ezra the priest. But the fact is that this reading of the book of the Law would not have been possible without the groundbreaking work of the Nehemiah who rose from the position of cup-bearer to Governor of Judah. Think of this, if Nehemiah was not passionate for the faith of Isreal, he would have kept quiet and remained in his position as cupbearer to the King. In truth, God elevates us when we make ourselves available for His service.
Nehemiah is such a powerful role model for every Christian who is neither a priest nor a religious.
The truth is that as laypersons, we find ourselves in a vantage point in that we are able to reach places that even the Pope may not be able to enter. It is not enough that we go to church, or contribute to its building, we must have our say even in the formulation of laws and policies that directly bear on the promotion of the kingdom of God on earth. The question we must always ask ourselves is this: “In what ways can I use my good office like Nehemiah to serve the work of God?”
Once upon a time, an artist moulded the Crucifix but it had no hands and no legs. When asked why he did so, he said: “that by seeing it, we may be reminded that Christ has no hands and no legs because we are supposed to be his hands and legs in our world today.”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me give my best as your labourer. Amen.
We remember St. Therese of the Child Jesus today. This great woman lived for only twenty-four years on earth, yet in that short time, she had already attained such a high degree of spirituality that by her few writings, she ranks on an equal pedestal with the renowned and learned doctors of the Church. In her, we see a perfect example of purity and dedication to God. By her life, we learn that being a youth is not an excuse for living recklessly. Don’t get carried away by your age; you too can be a Saint.