The Kingdom is still present in the Person of Jesus Christ. He continues to spread that Kingdom through His Body, the Church, of which we are members. The mission of that Church is our mission, to spread the Good News of the Gospel in this hour. We are sent into this age as surely as Matthew and the first apostles were sent into the First Millennium. In a homily preached on the passage from Luke, Pope St. Gregory the Great shared with honesty words which could certainly apply to our own time, - It is indeed regrettable that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. There is no shortage of people to hear the Good news. What is missing are people to spread it!
BOTHELL, WA (Catholic Online) - I write from outside of Seattle, Washington, where my wife and I are visiting our son, daughter in law and two of our six grandchildren. The words from Tuesdays Gospel for Holy Mass are familiar to most of us:
"Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." (Matt. 9)
What may not be clear to us is that we are the laborers. You and me. People have prayed - and are praying even at this moment- and we are being called by the Lord to respond to His call and participate in the work of the harvest, right now.
This passage in the Gospel of Matthew follows right after the account of the healing of the paralytic, the raising of a dead girl, the cure of the woman with the hemorrhage and the casting out of a demon. All of these are signs that the Kingdom of God is present in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom is still present in the Person of Jesus Christ. He continues to spread that Kingdom through His Body, the Church, of which we are members. The mission of that Church is our mission, to spread the Good News of the Gospel in this hour. We are sent into this age as surely as Matthew and the first apostles were sent into the First Millennium.
In the Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:1-12) we read the account of Jesus sending of the seventy two disciples. They stand as a symbol for all who, under the care and authority of the Apostles, would participate in and continue His redemptive mission after His Resurrection and Ascension. That includes you and me.
The call to this ongoing missionary work echoes down throughout the centuries. It is heard loudly and clearly in this very hour. If you listen closely, opening the ears of your heart, you will hear your own name! There is a desperate need for laborers in this hour and the harvest is abundant. What is needed are the laborers.
In a homily preached on the passage from Luke, Pope St. Gregory the Great shared with honesty words which could certainly apply to our own time, "It is indeed regrettable that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. There is no shortage of people to hear the Good news. What is missing are people to spread it!"
The Church exists to evangelize. The essential nature of the Church is missionary. The Catholic Church has always taught that every single human being on the face of the earth has a right to hear the liberating Gospel message of Jesus Christ and to be invited into new life in the heart of His Church.
That task of proclaiming the Kingdom and inviting the men and women of this age to encounter Jesus and come into His Body, the Church, will be accomplished in this hour by you and me, no matter what our state in life, or specific vocation. Are we hearing the invitation? Are we responding?
We were all baptized into Jesus Christ, and enlisted to participate in the saving mission of His Church. However, in order to be able to engage such a missionary task, many Catholic Christians need to first be renewed in their own Baptismal faith through a personal and transformational encounter with the Risen Lord.
This encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ needs to then be rooted, strengthened and secured by solid catechesis in what it really means to live as a Catholic Christian in this age. This task of waking Catholics up, and catechizing them afresh, is what is meant by the phrase New Evangelization as coined by St. John Paul II. It is now embodied in so much of the catechesis and instruction within the Catholic Church.
This New Evangelization invites each one of us come to truly understand - and then to really live our baptismal vocation. We are invited to freely choose the Lord and be completely given over to the work of the Lord, by living in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.
This kind of evangelical renewal requires an authentic and ongoing spiritual renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical missionary task in this critical hour in history.
The Church is the Ark, the boat, presided over by the Lord. He is at the helm, steering His redemptive course through time and human history into eternity. The Lord of the harvest is calling workers for the New Evangelization and the new missionary age. He is sending us all out into the field. He will work His saving and redemptive mission in and through us, because we are members of His Mystical Body, the Church.
I believe we are alive at the beginning of what will become a great resurgence in the Catholic Church. This is a work of the Holy Spirit intended to provide the resources needed for a new missionary age.
Just when her opponents are ready to count the Catholic Church out, the sleeping giant is rising, with healing in her wings - and a missionary song in her heart. She is being awakened from her slumber from within and challenged to action from without. She is being sent into the fields of this age to gather the harvest for the Lord.
The resources needed for this harvest have been prepared by the Holy Spirit. With the eyes of living faith we can see them being assembled. For example, the lay ecclesial movements are flourishing, new and renewed religious communities are growing, new and renewed Colleges and Universities, desirous of being fully and faithfully Catholic, are flourishing; all pointing to the work of the Holy Spirit awakening the Church.
Such movements, along with the new or renewed catholic Colleges are becoming the seedbed of all the various Christian vocations. From them the Lord is choosing and preparing missionaries to be sent into the fields of this age which are ripe for harvest.
There is a growing evangelical Catholic faith and life being manifested among so many of the lay faithful. The empowerment, training and recruitment of the lay members of the Church is at the center of the Holy Spirit's plan for this new missionary age.
In a powerful apostolic exhortation to the Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People St. John Paul described one part of the field into which the Church is being sent with these insightful words:
"Whole countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith, are now put to a hard test, and in some cases, are even undergoing a radical transformation, as a result of a constant spreading of an indifference to religion, of secularism and atheism.
This particularly concerns countries and nations of the so-called First World, in which economic well-being and consumerism, even if coexistent with a tragic situation of poverty and misery, inspires and sustains a life lived "as if God did not exist". This indifference to religion and the practice of religion devoid of true meaning in the face of life's very serious problems, are not less worrying and upsetting when compared with declared atheism.
At this moment the lay faithful, in virtue of their participation in the prophetic mission of Christ, are fully part of this work of the Church. Their responsibility, in particular, is to testify how the Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response-consciously perceived and stated by all in varying degrees-to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society.
This will be possible if the lay faithful will know how to overcome in themselves the separation of the Gospel from life, to again take up in their daily activities in family, work and society, an integrated approach to life that is fully brought about by the inspiration and strength of the Gospel." (Christifidelis Laici, #34)
Does the description sound familiar? The West is now mission territory. I reject the wrangling over why or how it happened. Further, I reject terms such as "post-Christian". Instead, I prefer to see the West as Pre-Christian. It is time for a revival of living faith in the Church.
The Lord who birthed the Church from His wounded side on Golgotha's Hill and died for her is now renewing her by His Spirit and calling her to continue his redemptive work until he returns to bring it to completion. He has been raised from the dead! He is truly alive! He is calling you and me into the harvest.
He now walks with our feet and issues His invitation to all men and women through our lips and by the witness of our lives, lived in Him, with Him, through Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to live our life in Christ by living them in the Church for the sake of the world which God still loves. That world is the field into which we are now sent.
We are living at the dawn of a New Missionary Age. The Harvest is Abundant But the Laborers are Few. We Are The Laborers. We are the missionaries. The fields are ripe.
By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life
Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour. The Joy of Love recognizes women's ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour, what she did in her own. Saints are a gift for the ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Andrew Cash practiced his religious rights at Missouri State University - and was dismissed from the master's program in counseling as a result. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic News Agency, Cash was referring same-sex couples to another ... continue reading
By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Does the news seem a little too pro-American to you? Does it seem reporters pull punches and that the real issues are ignored? Perhaps that's the result of a quiet change to the law that took place in 2013. A law banning the use of government propaganda on the American ... continue reading
By Matt Hadro (CNA)
Experts from across the political spectrum are calling for criminal justice reform, as a new White House report shows the human and economic costs of the current justice system. Washington D.C. (CNA) - "This is a singular moment in one of the most challenging issues ... continue reading
By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
An appalling portrayal of Jesus plastered to a dartboard was posted up as artwork inside the Art Library at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The "art piece," titled "Vitruvian Man," shows Jesus nailed to the dartboard ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The American people are seemingly obsessed with public restrooms these days and precisely how people use the potty. The fear is being stoked by concerns that individuals who "self-identify" as the opposite sex, will take advantage of liberal policies and assault ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
Jesus said to his disciples: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. CHESAPEAKE, VA. ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
U.S. President Barack Obama announced 250 more special operations forces are to be deployed to Syria within the next few weeks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Obama stated: "Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL, I've decided to ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Pike County, Ohio saw eight murders on Friday with the youngest victim described as 16-years-old and the oldest at 44. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released a statement on Sunday during a news conference to mention marijuana ... continue reading