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
- 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.