Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”
The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives. This is the list of the twelve he sent:
Simon (they called him Peter, or “Rock”), Andrew, his brother, James, Zebedee’s son, John, his brother, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, the tax man, James, son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, the Canaanite, Judas Iscariot (who later turned on him).
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
The gospel reading above speaks of discipleship. Just as Jesus has called and sent the first twelve apostles, he is also calling and sending us for a mission. In other words, discipleship entails a mission. We are called therefore to do something in the vineyard where “the harvest is ready but the laborers are few”.
During the time of Jesus, there were so many people who were in need of help. It is the same during our time, if not, more so. Just look around us or read the dailies, people everywhere are hungry for the Good News, hungry for physical food, and are in need of healing as well as comfort. Who will proclaim to them the Kingdom of God and tend to their needs?
The task of spreading the Word of God and serving the needy is not only for the priests or pastors. Every baptized Christian is called to share in the unfinished work or creation and redemption as priest, prophet and king (1 Peter 2:9). Just as Jesus was moved with compassion, may the Holy Spirit moved each one of us to move out of our comfort zones and reach out to the last, least and lost people in society.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit has been given to us freely, let us serve the people of God freely, without expecting reward or recognition. For it is Jesus whom we actually serve and it is Jesus who will bless us and give what is due to us whether at the present time and in the life beyond. It is therefore very timely at this point in our life to ask the question: What shall I do to heed the command of Jesus to go to the lost sheep, proclaim the kingdom of heaven and cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons? And to do all these things for free?