“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.”

As Jesus continues through Capernaum (Mt 9:32-38) He encounters a man possessed and exorcises him to the amazement of the crowd and the derision of the Pharisees, the latter of whom accuse Jesus of driving out demons by Satan.  Moving on to other cities and villages, Jesus continues to spread the gospel and cure many.  Pitying the crowds who come to meet Him, Jesus utters the words above to His disciples and asks them to pray for more helpers.  When we hear these words of Jesus about “laborers” we naturally think of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  The last lines of this gospel passage are some of the most frequently and widely used to promote vocations.  So we should pray that more persons, especially our youth, be open to the possibility that they are called to such a life.  But our efforts shouldn’t stop there.  Consider in what ways we can encourage a family member, relative, friend, or student to consider a religious vocation: always cast vocations in the best possible light, NEVER running down a priest or religious with gossip, innuendo, or unfair or undue criticism; point out those in religion who have influenced us positively and who are to be lifted up as true role models; get involved in your parish and encourage youth we influence to do the same, seeing the life of priests more intimately and getting to know them personally; encourage young people to visit vocations directors, the local parish priest, a nearby religious order, a spiritual director; invite a joyful priest or religious to dinner for good conversation and for a blessing; read to or provide materials to young people about exemplary priests and religious, both contemporary and of old.  These are just some ways to encourage religious vocations.  But we must never forget that we all have been given the vocation to evangelize.  We too are those laborers — we are not to wait for others to do the work entrusted to us because they have been “set apart” to do so by sacrament or vow.  We also have been set apart by our baptism.  Let us never cease praying and working to be exemplary models of true Christian living so that by word — and more importantly action — we will encourage everyone who encounters us to want to come closer to the Lord so that they can have what we have.

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