Jesus’ exhortation in Sunday’s Gospel “ask the Master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” usually is interpreted to mean pray for more priests, deacons, and women and men religious. But look at the context of his words. Jesus is sending out seventy-two disciples. None of these followers are priests or consecrated religious and probably most of them won’t be. Every person who believes in Jesus is called to labor for his cause. By our baptism we all assume the responsibility to spread the good news of salvation and bring others to Christ.
For too long the duties of the laity were limited to praying, paying, and obeying. We’ve forgotten that all Christians are also to be relaying. We are to continue the work of Jesus and tell people about the kingdom of God. A friend who went to Catholic school with me became a Jehovah’s Witness after two of them appeared at her door and spoke with her. Personal contact makes all the difference in the world!
We needn’t go door to door or stand on street corners proclaiming the good news. There are other methods to attract others to our faith. One woman prayed the rosary in her hospital room, and her roommate on observing this asked questions and eventually joined an RCIA group. Another woman suggested to her friend who was away from the church for a long time that she go to confession to a certain priest “who wouldn’t scold her.” That friend became the PTU’s spiritual chairperson at her son’s school. Someone recommended to a family who was visiting Cleveland that they stop to see the St. Paul’s Shrine on Euclid Ave. The family was so moved by the beauty of that sacred space that they became Catholic.
So what can you do? What will you do? It goes without saying that we pass on the faith to our children: practicing Catholic customs in the home and sending them to a Catholic school or PSR classes. But there are ways to reach out to other people in the fields ripe for harvesting. Do you know of a parish blessed with engaging and practical homilies and stirring music? Is there a family member you can invite to come with you to a Mass there? Is your parish or diocese sponsoring a community event like a festival or a Fest? What a great opportunity to introduce a neighbor to our vibrant church. If you are involved in a church project, why not invite a friend to go along with you?
It’s said that we should refrain from speaking about religion or politics. But if we don’t make our faith and values known—not in an obnoxious or argumentative way, but sincerely and passionately—how will others be drawn to them?
Yes, let’s pray for more laborers, but let’s also be good ones ourselves.
What good stories do you know of about how people have been attracted to the Catholic Church?