The Harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few

June 18, 2017

Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

One of my favorite days occurred just recently. It was the last Friday in May. What day was it, you might ask? The last day of school!

I have different reasons for liking that day now than I had many years ago. This year, the last day of school means that our street gets very quiet, and about the only traffic is people who figure out it’s a dead end right about when they get to our house.The last day of school for me was 25 years ago, the day I graduated from seminary. It’s hard to believe it has been that long! Before that it was the last day of University, 34 years ago.

Before that was my high school graduation, and I don’t even want to think how long ago that was!

Ah, Summer vacation! Swimming, and camping, and sleeping late! I miss Summer vacation, don’t you?

Why do schools have Summer vacation, you might wonder? It goes back to a time when we were largely an agrarian society. In the early days of the United States, people were mostly farmers. And farmer’s kids were expected to work on the farm.

When I lived Wisconsin, and I tried my hand at gardening, the growing season was basically between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I had no experience at gardening, so another student and his wife tutored me.

We spent a lot of time preparing the soil, then planting seeds, then there was the never-ending weeding that had to be done.

Toward the end of Summer we harvested. We had a lot of tomatoes, carrots, a variety of peppers, and some squash for good measure.

Harvesting was the reward for all of that labor done up front, leading weeding and feeding.

When Jesus spoke to the people of his day, he knew they could relate to parables related to farming. The Gospel according to Matthew has many such parables.

In chapter 20, Jesus tells the parable of the master of the house who hired laborers to harvest in his vineyard.

Remember how he paid them all the same wages no matter what time of the day they were hired?

In chapter 21, there is the parable of the two sons who were sent to the vineyard to work. One said he would go, but did not, and the other said he would not, but he repented and went anyway.

We heard today from chapter 9, “Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Jesus followed his prayer for laborers to send to the harvest by giving authority to his twelve disciples, and sending them out to the lost sheep of Israel. He told them to proclaim the Good News (which is what the word Gospel means,) and to tell them the Kingdom of heaven has come to them.

They were the first laborers sent out to the harvest.

Paul, known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, was sent out as well. He wrote to the Romans, “I want you to know, brethren, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.”

Reaping the harvest, for St. Paul, seems to mean the raising up of disciples of Jesus. Remember how he wrote to the Corinthians that he planted the seed, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

One of the most striking was written by St. John the Divine:

The Revelation 14:14 “Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”

St. John wrote about the Last Day, the day of judgment. This is the day that all who believe in Jesus will be gathered into the arms of our Heavenly Father.

This is our destiny, yours and mine. This life on this earth is but a short time for us, for we have eternal life because the Spirit of Christ lives in us. We are the harvest, and we are fellow laborers with the Apostles so that even more may be brought into the abundant life.

You have the Spirit of Christ in you, so live every day with the knowledge that your destiny is salvation because of the sacrifice of Christ.

The kingdom of heaven has come to you. You don’t have to go searching for God. He has come searching for you.

Remember these words from St. Paul to the Romans:

“God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.”