St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Active Members of the Church -Homily July 3, 2016

Active Members of the Church                                             -Homily July 3, 2016

 

1. “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.” What does it mean to be an active member of the Church? For many people, it means to have a job in church. I tell you, if that is the meaning, the words of the Scripture would not make much sense. In this parish, there are so many people, I would say half of them, who have a job in the church. Some of them in the liturgy, others in committees, others in parish organizations, still others in other things, more hidden, but not less important. If the labourers are few in this parish, how is it possible that this church is still running? It is a big church. Few people don’t make a church like this run. It is certainly not my doing: I don’t even know some of the things that are being done by people here. They have been working for so many years silently, perhaps without even being recognized by their parish priest. Oh no, I don’t think the Lord was talking about St. Michael’s in that sense. The Lord was not talking about that kind of labour. The harvest is plentiful means another thing. And the labourers for that harvest are unfortunately few.

 

2. What harvest is plentiful? The harvest of people who are thirsting for happiness is plentiful. The harvest of people who do not have a meaning in life is abundant. There are lots of people who do not know the message of Salvation, who do not have the joy of the Gospel, and are ready and willing to receive it, if someone were kind enough to preach it. It has always been easy for us Christians to work inside the walls, in our comfort zone. It has always been easy for us priest to preach the truth with passion to people who already know the truth. It is easy for a labourer to work in the part of the harvest that is closest to him. It is easy for a shepherd to tend a small flock. But what happens if the flock counts a thousand sheep and the shepherds are two or three? They may take good care of three hundred sheep, but they may lose the rest. What do they do? Would it be ok to let the rest of the sheep die? Is it possible to tend a thousand sheep by yourself? What do you do? The Lord says: “Ask the owner of the field to send more labourers.”

 

3. Who are those labourers? First of all, the servants of the word, missionaries, sisters and priests. Then also, all lay people, because they participate in the universal mission of the Church: to go all over the world and preach the Gospel. We all are labourers here, but do we want to go? Have we not been sent already? Yes, we have. I, on the day of my ordination, you on the day of your confirmation. However, do we go? Do we fulfill our mission? Do we try to bring more people closer to God? Do we try to bring people to church? If we are already doing something, could we not do more than we do? Sometimes we do things, but just enough to feel that we did what we could. However, the harvest is plentiful. If we don’t do something now, the fruit will be lost. If we don’t do something for those other sheep, the wolf will ravage them, or they will die of hunger.

 

4. So there is a mission here, and as usual there is work for everyone. It is volunteer work; or better said, it is work paid in Heaven. No police check required: all sinners welcome to work too. What can we do?

 

- First, pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The mission of the Church is so important that we need full time and full heart labourers, who consecrate their lives to be the Lord’s possession. We cannot think that we have enough, because the Lord said that the labourers are few. We cannot think that we do not need consecrated people, because the Lord thinks otherwise: “Some do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” (cf. Matthew 19:10-12). And he invited the apostles to leave their families, their jobs and their possessions to preach the Gospel (cf. Matthew 19:27-29). We have to pray with conviction and with hunger for what we need. Do we really desire to have more priests and sisters? How will our prayer be heard if we don’t mean what we say?

 

- Children and youth, be open to the call. The Lord might be thinking about you as his consecrated labourer. Maybe he has thought that you could be a good close helper. Don’t be afraid of giving everything to the one who gave you his own life and shed his blood for you.

 

- Adults, be open to the vocation of your children and grandchildren. It is a charismatic gift for the Church: welcome that gift. Try to picture your child saying to you: “Mom, I would like to become a sister.” “Mom, I would like to become a priest.” Take a breath, and be ready to say: “What a great idea my child, pray to God that he may give you strength.” Vocations are not “made in China” or in Argentina for that matter: they come from our own parishes and families. You never lose the child who becomes a priest. He will always be your son, and you will not have to share it with a daughter in law…

 

- All of us: keep inviting to church those who do not come. Talk about God to people around you. Say what you think about injustice and corruption. Give witness with your charity work, be ready to help those who need help, and to console those who are sad. If we don’t do that, we will be responsible for the fruit that will be lost, or for the sheep that will die. Let us not pass by our brother or sister who is half dead on the street. They are about to die because they don’t have life. Jesus is the life. Let us be for them the good Samaritan, pouring out the oil of gladness on their wounds, and the wine of the love of God for their sufferings. –Fr. Andrew