“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
This passage is so very important to help us understand what it means for us to be Christians, followers of Christ. Jesus taught us that “the harvest is abundant.” God has done a great deal of work on each one of us. God planted the seed, nurtured it and cared for it until it matured and was ready to be harvested. The Psalm puts it this way: “I thank you Lord, with all my heart…You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works.” (Psalm 139:1, 13-14)
God willed us into being and guided us to maturity, but Jesus acknowledged a glitch. He noted that the harvest, the fruit of God’s labor, stands waiting to be gathered and brought into the kingdom of God. Through God’s labor everyone has been prepared for the kingdom, but we need something more. We need to be invited. That’s where the seventy-two disciples in today’s gospel come in. This is where we come into the story, too.
“So, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Some commentators say that Jesus sent the disciples out two by two so that one would pray while the other preached. Personally, I think we all have to pray, and we all have to preach.
We have to be people of prayer. Jesus often spent the night in prayer before he began a new segment of his mission. Prayer is that si
lent time when we invite the Spirit to speak to our hearts. This is essential to give us insight into the message of Jesus and the courage we’ll need to witness to it. Not pulling any punches, Jesus was clear that the work of harvesting could be difficult and maybe scary. “I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”
He also asks that we be simple and honest with our message. Remember, this is a heart to heart ministry. “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” We must be single-minded, determined and sincere. The kingdom of God holds the gift we all long for. “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’”
In John’s Gospel, during the last supper, Jesus spoke intimately with his disciples. He said to them, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus was opening the door of the kingdom for them. His gift of peace wasn’t freedom from struggle or danger, however. It was the peace that would remain secure and powerful in their hearts no matter what challenges life would bring them. This is what the laborer is asked to offer, the peace of the kingdom of God.
Today, the gospel is inviting each of us to work to bring in the harvest. God has already planted the seed throughout the world. Let’s pray to the Spirit for the gift of peace so that we can we can begin the ministry we’ve been called to. From deep within our hearts let’s proclaim the kingdom of God. Let’s be brave. Let’s say, “Peace be to this household.”