3rd July, 2022

Field of growing grain

‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few,
so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’

 Homily for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, C

Among the many valuable lessons Jesus taught His disciples, about what to do in order to be a good Christian and His faithful follower, one is often overlooked. After encouraging them to work hard, because the harvest is ready and rich, and after encouraging them to be ready for many hardships, because there are wolves out in the world. After encouraging them to put their confidence in God and not in money or in their own strength, and after encouraging them to stay focused on their mission, and not be distracted. After all of that, Jesus finished His instructions by telling His disciples how to react when their efforts and endeavours seem to be fruitless, when they seem to fail in their attempts to bring other people to Jesus, and when that happens, they are to simply shake the dust from their feet and move on.

Jesus is telling His disciples – and that includes us all – to expect failures and disappointments, as we try to live out, and spread the Gospel as people of different vocations and professions. And more importantly He tells us not to let these failures bother us too much. Today we are invited to reflect on this valuable lesson, because each of us is free and each of us can accept or reject God’s grace and love. In fact, Jesus himself couldn’t convince the Pharisees and many other people to listen to Him and to follow Him. Should we expect anything different? St Paul certainly didn’t. That’s why he lays so much emphasis on the cross in his teaching. Today in the second reading we heard the following words: ‘The only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world’. The cross is Jesus’ greatest glory. Because of the cross He showed us that his love for His Heavenly Father and also for each of us has no limits, but at the same time the cross was a sign of the stark reality of sin, of people’s free rejection of the Gospel.

Our culture today in many ways is equally hostile to Jesus’ teaching and the Christian way of life, especially to the teaching about abortion and the sanctity of life. When we try to live according to the ten commandments, and all the teachings that we inherited from the Gospel, from our Lord Jesus Christ, when we try to defend our faith and build up the Church, we often run into resistance, mockery and even humiliation. Jesus knew it would be so, but He wants us to be His courageous ambassadors anyway. He told us that we will sometimes be rejected because of our faith, and to some extent that is okay. We are to shake the dust from our feet and move on trusting that Jesus can turn failures into success. This is the secret to overcome discouragement. When we try to follow Jesus, and obstacles spring up and failures plague us, the first temptation we face is discouragement. We think we have done something wrong. We think we are weak, useless or just good for nothing. We think that we have disappointed Jesus and let him down.

But when we let the bad thoughts take root in our hearts, that is what stifles us, they make us settle for mediocrity, and the devil loves that. He loves to feel that Jesus’ followers are paralyzed with discouragement. But the truth is that discouragement is the result of unfulfilled expectations, and Jesus has reminded us of what we should strive to do to follow Him and what we can expect. We should expect rejection. We should expect persecution and many other obstacles. Now that we know this, we don’t have to be discouraged anymore. We can humbly trust in God; we can shake the dust from our feet and we can move on. So, as we continue with Mass today let us reflect on the moments that we tend to give in to this temptation of discouragement and let us put that into the hands of Christ, shaking the dust from our feet and trusting in the power of His grace. And finally let us take with us to our homes, schools and workplaces, Jesus’ call and invitation to be joyful. He says to us all today: Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Fr Gregory