Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:32-38
In today’s Gospel, when Jesus traveled to various towns, He felt compassion for the huge crowds of people, because they had such a great need for guidance and help. He thought of them like sheep without a shepherd, kind of just wandering around.
Jesus is our Good Shepherd. When He walked this earth, He took care of the poor, the crippled, the needy and the sinners. He taught by example how all of us are called to help others. Specifically, He knew that when He returned to Heaven, He would need others to continue His work. He told His disciples that “the harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few,” and He prayed for laborers (Mt. 9:35-38).
Well, Jesus’ disciples were the first laborers He sent out to help His sheep who were in need. They, in turn, because our first priests, bishops and popes. Today, Pope Francis, our bishops and our priests are Christ’s labors, working tirelessly in the fields of His Church.
Just like Jesus called the first disciples, He continues to call men to the priesthood to attend His flocks, anointing them with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Through the grace of this sacrament, our priests celebrate Mass, administer the Sacraments, teach us the Faith and give us good counsel.
In a 1993 General Audience, St. Pope John Paul II said that “a vocation is a gift, but it is also the response to this gift. How each of us … can answer this divine call depends on many circumstances.” He went on to talk about how men who are called to the priesthood can cooperate, listen and follow Jesus’ words, “I chose you.”
St. Pope John Paul II also emphasized the role the community at large plays in responding to vocations. “[Vocations] are born in the family, and the family must cooperate with a vocation. They are born in the parish, and the parish must cooperate with a vocation … The response to a vocation depends to a very high degree on the witness of the whole community … People help vocations grow.”
As lay men and women, we play a vital role in helping to fulfill the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. Jesus urges us to pray to the “master of the harvest” to send laborers. We can do this by praying for our current priests, bishops and Pope to be shining examples to younger generations. We can do this by praying for our seminaries, Catholic schools and parishes to guide young men who may feel called to the priesthood. And we can do this by raising up good families, and cooperating with any vocations that might spring up in the lives of our children and grandchildren.
How do you pray for and support your current parish priest and/or bishop? Have you done anything within your own family or parish to encourage vocations? How do you cooperate with God’s plans for your children?
Thank You, Lord, for calling holy men to be our priests, bishops and pope. We are blessed by their “yes” to You and to Your people. We know, Lord, that the harvest is still great, that people still very much need the guidance and care of a shepherd. We pray that Your faithful priests may continue to tirelessly work as shepherds in the fields of Your Church. We pray for the grace to cooperate with You in your plan for vocations. May our prayers, our efforts, our encouragement always coincide with what You ultimately want for Your Church. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Sarah Damm