In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” We think immediately about praying for priests and religious when we hear these words, and we certainly need priests and religious in today’s church.
But what about laborers for places where priests and religious will never be? They’re certainly not the only laborers for God’s great harvest. And what about the harvest itself, where does that happen?
I was sitting in a restaurant the other day across from a table of people and couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. “What do you think of the pope?” “Do you think there’s life after death?” “Do you think Jesus is really God?” Their questions ended mostly in doubts or went unanswered, as far as I could tell. They sounded like sheep without a shepherd.
I wished there were one of those laborers Jesus asked for at that table, a sower to throw some seeds of truth into that field, someone with a shepherd’s voice. But it seemed there wasn’t. Yet, a harvest was there waiting to happen.
Jesus spoke about the laborers for the harvest as he moved from town to town in Galilee and saw “troubled and abandoned” crowds, Matthew’s gospel says. Maybe we need to ask for laborers to walk among crowds like that today. Maybe we need to recognize there’s a harvest not far from where we are, “troubled and abandoned,” at a table nearby.