Master of the Harvest

Then [Jesus] 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.” And he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.   – Matthew 9:37-10:1

This is a really powerful and inspiring passage if we progress through exactly what is being revealed in each line. Let’s take a look:

  • Jesus tells his disciples to ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for the harvest. Of course, he’s speaking metaphorically about the need to restore humanity back to a right relationship with God. Who is the master of the harvest? God is the master, for he is the only one who can actually send people to call his people back to himself. In fact, he’s done so throughout all of the Old Testament. We can see this in all of the prophets found in that first section of the Bible. The prophets called God’s people back from their sinful ways. This is where one of the cool parts comes in…
  • Immediately after telling his disciples to ask the master of the harvest to send laborers for the harvest, Jesus calls his Twelve apostles and sends them out to restore his people by casting out unclean spirits and curing illnesses. Which means…Jesus is the master of the harvest! Which means…Jesus is God! Whoa. In this scene, Jesus is revealing his identity, which is powerful in itself. But it gets even better! Jesus also reveals something about the nature of God. To understand what we’re talking about, let’s have a mini lesson in deities:
    • Throughout history, people have fallen into the trap of believing in false gods. There is the god of the sun, the god of the rains, the god of the crops, the god of fertility, the god of the ocean, the list can go on and on. There’s a god for everything. They control their own domain and together they created humans. And these gods are generally viewed to be pretty unreasonable and extremely demanding. They are said to treat people as mere slaves and tend to hold something against us mere mortals. It’s as though these gods created humans only to make their life a little more entertaining. Not cool. Now we can look at what makes this scene so awesome.
  • Jesus gives his disciples authority to cast out unclean spirits and to cure diseases and illnesses. Remember: Jesus is God. Jesus, as God, calls people to himself in order to give them something precious, which is to share in his work of restoring humanity! The divine Word of God is eager to give his beloved creature the deepest qualities of his own Divine Being. Wow!

Let’s simply marvel at the radical generosity of our God. He’s so good and so generous. There’s much more that could be observed from this scene, but this is powerful enough to lead us into a prayer of thanksgiving.

Jesus, we’re so grateful you came to us. We’re so grateful for your generosity. Thank you! Send us out to help with the harvest. Call us to yourself and share with us your divine life. Make us generous as you are generous.

Now, let’s go share in the Master’s work.

A Word of Encouragement for the Overloaded Christian

St. Faustina, being a member of a religious order, typically had many opportunities to pray throughout the day, and many of these times of prayer led to profound encounters and conversations with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Once, though, she was allowed to visit her dying mother back at home and while there she was overburdened by so many family and friends who wanted to visit with her. Her time for prayer greatly diminished because she was so busy tending to her family needs. She tried several times during her time at home to sneak away for some conversation with the Lord, but each time her family demanded her attention. After her return to the convent, she wrote this in her diary:

“When I entered the chapel to say goodnight to the Lord before retiring, and apologized for having talked so little to Him when I was at home, I heard a voice within my soul, I am very pleased that you had not been talking with Me, but were making My goodness known to souls and rousing them to love me.

A few things to point out from this brief entry:

– St. Faustina was too busy to spend her preferred amount of time in prayer. The Lord saw her busyness and he understood. In fact, not only did he understand, but he was pleased that she didn’t avoid her duty so that she could pray. It was more important for St. Faustina to be attentive to the demands of her family than to spend huge amounts of time in prayer. Being attentive to her family was transformed into a type of prayer to the Lord.

She still took time to pray. The first line: “When I entered the chapel…” Yes, she was very busy, but she still took time to pray. While she was home, she doesn’t apologize for NOT talking to the Lord, but for talking so little to him. She spoke to the Lord every day.

She made the Lord’s goodness known and she roused her family to love him. While performing her duty, she helped others know the glory of God.

These three things may be helpful to anyone who struggles to find time to pray in the midst of a busy world, one which tends to place too many burdens on our shoulders. These three things will help the overburdened Christian discover that the Lord takes pleasure in our efforts to love him:

1. Always perform your duty with diligence, even if it means spending less than the preferred amount of time with the Lord.

2. Take time to pray everyday. Finding time is difficult; taking time is less difficult. Begin or finish the day with prayer and speak to the Lord for brief periods of time throughout the day.

3. While performing your duty, reveal to others the glory of God. Rouse others to love him more, simply by the way you attend to their needs.

Thank God!

A popular phrase, often said with more emphasis on the day of the week than anything else: “T.G.I.F. – Thank God it’s Friday.” TGIF

A phrase often said when something lost is found, or when a crisis is avoided, but usually isn’t meant to be taken with any meaning: “Oh, thank God!

A phrase often heard at home around mealtime: “This again?!?

A phrase from the Bible:

The hope of an ungrateful person will melt like wintry frost, and flow away like waste water. Book of Wisdom 16:29

In other words, if we’re not grateful for the gifts God has given us – however big or small – we’ll quickly lose hope in our salvation. We’ll forget his love for us altogether!

I was playing a game with some people a few days ago and a guy dislocated and broke his ankle – some of the group had to take him to the hospital. While they were gone, those of us who remained prayed for him: we thanked God for his love, for our health, and we thanked God even for allowing this other guy to share in the suffering of Jesus. We maintained an “attitude of gratitude” because we knew that such an attitude will keep us hopeful of God’s love for us.Thank God

When we speak these phrases that include, “Thank God!” we should actually thank God in the moment. We need to take time each day – include it in your prayer time – to thank God for everything, even for our very existence. Doing so will remind us that God does indeed love us and has invited us to share in the salvation of his Son. Our gratitude will fill us with hope!

Thank him for your life. Thank him for your family. Thank him for your friends. Thank him for allowing you to go to school. Thank him for allowing you to have a job. Thank him for food (even if it’s the same meal over and over again) and drink. Thank him for animals and nature. Thank him for the flat tire. Thank him for the icy roads. Thank him for the red light. Thank him for everything. Thank God, literally.

OVERWHELMED [WORSHIP VIDEO]

God is bigger than the biggest.  God is smarter than the smartest.  God is more lovely than the lovliest.  God is more powerful than the most powerful.  God is more forgiving than the most forgiving.  God is more.  And He is our God.  And He knows us each by name.  OVERWHELMING!!!  Close your door; turn off your lights; dance with arms lifted high.  Sing unto HIM!!!

Prayer Workshop: Spontaneous Prayer & Holy Thoughts

Silent Prayer

(For an explanation of the Prayer Workshop, click here.)

Direct all of your hopes to God by brief, ardent upliftings of your heart. These are very simple prayers and do not need to be longer than 1 or 2 short sentences.

Praise his excellence: “You are everything, Lord. I need nothing more than your love.” “You are God and I am not.”

Invoke his aid: “Jesus, redeem my life!” “God, come to my assistance! Lord, make haste to help me!”

Adore his goodness: “Praise God!” “God, you are so good.”

Offer your soul to him: “I give you everything, Lord.” “All is yours, Jesus.” “Be my God.”

Let him lead you as a father leads a child: “Lord, I give you control. Let your will be done. Reveal your will to me.” “Lead me where you want me to go.”

Kindle by every possible act your love for God! Speak with your heart or mouth whatever springs forth from the love within you. Let everything lead your memory back to God and his glory.

Let your conversation with the Lord last throughout the entire day, even if you speak only one or two sentences at a time. Let him remain present in your mind all day long, so that he may speak to you and tell you of his love.

Do Not Be Anxious. [SERMON]

red grapes Ventana 9.07

Scripture to read before listening:

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9)

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:33-43)

What is Simplicity?

FocusOnJesus-470x260

I’ve written in previous posts about simplicity and how it can assist us in remembering our mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, but I didn’t really offer a definition of simplicity. It’s a tough word to define, especially when seeking to satisfy the masses. I’ve had several conversations with the EvangelicalDisciple concerning the topic and we have yet to nail down a good definition of it. Well, I have good news for everyone: I think I have found a good definition!

St. Francis de Sales (whom I quoted last week) offers this:

Well, simplicity is nothing else than an act of pure and simple charity, having only one end, which is to acquire the love of God; and our soul is simple when we have no other aim in all that we do or desire.

To break open his definition, he brings into the discussion the example of Martha and Mary as they welcomed the Lord into their home. Mary was the one who understood simplicity, for she looked straight to God, without ever allowing any self-interest to creep into her motives for sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha, meanwhile, was so focused on herself that she became anxious and weighed down by her work. Her life had become so self-interested that she lost all freedom to rest with Jesus.

rest

Consider the ramifications of what life might look like for one devoted to living a life solely founded on the virtue of simplicity: no more little indulgences after consuming enough food and drink, no more excessive TV watching, spending, hoarding… no more excess at all. What else might it entail? Well, resting on Sundays, spending more time in the peace and quiet of prayer, striving for holiness and inviting others to do the same, encountering great joy in detachment from self, realizing you don’t have to defeat Satan because Jesus already did it, calmness of spirit and freedom from anxiety. The pros outweigh the cons.

If you’re interested in living a life of true simplicity, ask yourself:

Do I want serve this person because I want to look good in the eyes of others, or because I want to show him/her God’s love?

Do I want to buy this car because it looks a certain way, or because it will help me glorify God?

Do I want to grow a good garden so I can show it off to my friends, or because a good garden will nourish me and remind me to thank God for my health, and beautiful flowers will remind me of all that God created?

Do I exercise only because it makes me look better to other people, or because I can serve God better with a healthy body?

Do I want to fast today because my friends might notice and think I’m a holy person, or because it will remind me of my soul’s hunger for God’s grace?

Am I focused on myself, or on God and his glory?

Do I think only of myself and how I look in the eyes of others, or do I think only of God and his love for his people?

Do I pray only because it makes me feel good, or because God deserves my worship, reverence, and love? Do I stop praying when the good feelings vanish, or do I persevere even through the times when I can’t feel God’s presence?

Ask yourself these questions – and similar questions about things that better relate to your life – frequently. Live a reflected life so you don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Be simple.

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