Ps 17:1b-3, 6-8b, 15
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus,
and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.
The crowds were amazed and said,
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said,
“He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Good News Reflection: What’s discouraging you?
In today’s Gospel reading, how does Jesus react when the Pharisees accuse him of being in partnership with the devil? Apparently, he doesn’t react at all. He refused to let them control his behavior and his attitude and his response.
When someone treats us unfairly or unkindly, how much control do we hand over to that person? If we react instead of choosing how to act, if our anger lingers, if we feel discouraged, if we wallow in “poor me” self-pity, or if we stop what we’re doing, we’ve given away too much. Why let others control us like that? Why allow them to motivate us into unhappiness?
Jesus was motivated, not by harassment but by the needs of the people. The awareness of what he could do for them stirred him to continue his tour of the towns and villages despite false accusations that damaged his reputation.
When we serve God, we don’t have time for the nonsense that people toss at us in their attacks. It’s only God’s opinion of us that matters anyway. By staying focused on Jesus and following him wherever he leads us, we can enjoy what we’re doing for his kingdom.
No one has the right to steal our joy! So why give it up?
Jesus had good reason to feel discouraged, because the crowds were so large and the needs were so huge and there were so many towns still unvisited; he was just one person with so much to do. Have you ever worked on a project or ministry that overwhelmed you? How do you think Jesus felt? The scripture says he felt pity for those who needed what he could give.
He could have felt frustrated. Or he could have worried that no one else would ever be able do the work as well as he did. Instead, he told his disciples to pray for more helpers. Then he told them that they were the helpers for whom they had prayed!
This Gospel reading is often quoted to remind people to pray for an increase of vocations. Well guess what. We are the helpers we’re praying for! Some of us are gifted and called to become priests or to join religious orders, but not all of us. Yet, we are all definitely called to help Jesus with the harvest. The laity can go where the clergy cannot — into homes and workplaces and the neighbors’ barbecue parties — so that Jesus can serve the needs of more and more people.
Our vocation is to be Jesus’ hands and feet, voice and heart. This usually triggers persecution from those who fail to understand us, but are we going to let that control our moods?
Lord Jesus: May Your Holy Spirit put Your words on our lips and give us noble and generous hearts to serve You. May we announce Your kingdom with the signs and wonders You promised that will accompany those who believe in You. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica