“Go . . . to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And proclaim, “‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”

The first reading from Hosea speaks to lack of gratitude on the part of the Israelites as they seemingly took the blessing they received for granted and turned away from the expectations of the Lord.  They used their blessings to benefit themselves and built altars to idols instead of thanking God.  I had to re-read this passage many times to fully understand the implications and then to realize how I may be guilty of some of the same behavior.  It really forced me to think about how I show my gratitude for the multitude of blessings I have received and continue to receive.   Such “forced” examination is always helpful for me to keep things in perspective.  While I know that I am blessed and believe that I show gratitude in many ways, I can always find additional ways.  One area that came to mind was the blessings of people in my life, not just family for whom I am usually quite conscious about thanking God, but rather all those others who touch or have touched my life.  Have I let them know what they bring to my life?  Do they realize that they have made me a better person just because of who they are and how they live their lives? Have I taken these blessings for granted, expecting that people will be there to “show me the way?” 

Like the Israelites in Hosea, when our minds are wrapped up in our own lives, our hearts are false.  This pride only creates barriers and a lofty self-view.  It may take destruction—some sort of rude awakening—to bring back the respect that God deserves.  If you’ve ever been in a thunderstorm, sometimes it seems like God is pounding on some roof, shaking up the sky, and demanding your attention.  His love is endless, but so is His might.  “Listen!” He calls out from the storm!  He wants us to seek Him and to love Him.  And the time is now!  Why wait?  You may feel lost, or just lack the motivation it takes to build that relationship, but pray for strength to “break up for yourselves a new field.”  God loves us all individually and will always send people after us to show us His miracles and love and bring us back again.

Today’s gospel says, “Go . . . to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And proclaim, “‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” This is like a summons for us; so, start preparing for some work! Make the effort! Seek the Lord! Proclaim His Kingdom! What could be more worth it? Don’t delay! As Jesus says, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And to whom shall we proclaim the Kingdom? Jesus tells us, “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Don’t you know a lapsed Catholic? Someone who says, “I was raised Catholic” but has since quit practicing their faith? Most of us do. It’s time to get started. The Kingdom is at hand . . . it is time to seek the Lord, and to proclaim the Kingdom to the lost sheep that you know.

Although “the harvest is good but laborers are scarce”, Jesus does not immediately send out His disciples to labor in His harvest. First, He commands them to pray for the Father to send out laborers. Second, He gives His disciples authority over every demon and sickness. Third, He determines His primary community by choosing twelve apostles by name. Finally, He sends them out to evangelize and minister.

We will not have workers in the harvest until we form Christian community, until we are in a family of our own twelve apostles. However, we won’t be able to participate in and form community unless we use our God-given authority to remove demonic strongholds standing in the way of Christian community life. However, we need to pray before receiving God’s authority.

Yes, we need to pray for workers for the harvest, particularly for priestly and religious vocations to be accepted. Yet there’s more. We must pray for Christians to use their authority in Jesus to form the community that provides workers for the harvest. Workers for the harvest are themselves a harvest, the fruit of prayer, the proper use of spiritual authority and Christian community. Prepare for a harvest of harvesters.


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