An Abundant Harvest

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Top Gun 2, and it was impressive. I found it hilarious, however, that before the movie began there was a preview for another Mission Impossible movie that will come out next summer. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought, hasn’t there been enough?!? Aren’t we sick of them yet?!? And almost simultaneously I was excited for the movie and thought, I will go see it…and that’s why there is another Mission Impossible movie coming out.

The movie series Mission Impossible may not seem relevant to our Gospel, but I assure you it is. The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. How appropriate are these words for us today? In past years many parishes enjoyed having two, three, and sometimes even four priests. As a result, weekend coverage for Masses did not need the same commitment and generosity from retired priests; so please thank Fr. Len for covering this weekend and allowing me a weekend of vacation. I am very grateful to him. It was uncommon for priests to be made pastors until they had been priests for 6-8 years.  And yet, we know our experience is much different today. We have fewer priests.  I am a priest of five years, and I was sent to this parish on my own after only three years of priesthood. The harvest indeed is abundant and the laborers are few. Not only does it seem that we have fewer priests, but the mission is not promised to be an easy one. Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. We are sent like lambs among wolves partly because we are not guaranteed that it will be easy or free from anxiety. Sometimes the mission is hard; but Jesus asks us to go anyway. It might be hard to leave where we are comfortable to go and serve the Lord. Sometimes it might be hard because the people do not want to hear the Good News. But we are called to go anyway. The reason we go is this:  We are so convinced by Christ’s love, joy, and peace in our lives, that we want to give that same love, joy, and peace to others.

Here’s the best part, Jesus tells us how to do it. In the movie, there were times when Ethan Hunt went ill-equipped for a mission and his safety was far from a guarantee, hence the name, Mission Impossible. This mission that Christ gives us may not seem possible, easy, or appealing. But listen to these words from our Savior again, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals. Don’t bring what you think you need, he says, instead have a radical trust in Him. Christ promises us that all we need for this mission is our friendship with him. With His help, the help that comes from the Holy Spirit, we have the hope to carry out this mission. 

Notice, this mission was not just the 12, it was given to 72. The fact that he sent out 72 indicates that this was not just a mission for the ‘apostles’, but for many.  It indicates it wasn’t just a mission for ‘them’ but is a mission for each of us now. So, your mission, our mission, should we choose to accept it, (see what I did there?), is to be like the 72. Each of us has been chosen and has also been sent. We too are disciples who are sent by Christ to bring the peace and joy that comes from God into the world.  This is “[our] mission … to announce his coming, to present him to the [others], to open their hearts to faith, and to arouse in them a desire for his coming.”

In Christ’s love and friendship,

Fr. Stephen