From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus sees the world’s need for more laborers, because the work is abundant. It is the same today, for nothing has changed. We need more laborers. And we need to pray for vocations.
When I read the gospel, these words are difficult to understand: “Ask the master of the harvest to send out more laborers for his harvest…” That phase gives the impression that all we need to do is to pray to God, and He will send them. It seems very simple and easy; but these questions arise: Do we pray enough? Does God send laborers?
I believe that these questions should be put forward in our prayer. Do we pray for vocations?
Pope Francis stresses this point saying:
Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or to the consecrated life there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community…. This is why Jesus said: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest,” that is, God the Father, “to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38). Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit.
I personally refuse to believe that the Lord is not still calling people to His harvest. I think He does, but for some reason we are busy with other things and we don’t listen, or we don’t understand the message. Why? Maybe because we are so very busy doing our “own thing” that we don’t make the time to listen. And when we finally do, we believe that that message is not for us, but for someone else.
What happens is that sometimes because we are not familiar with the way God communicates, we are also unfamiliar with spiritual things. Then we cannot recognize or understand His message. It is precisely for this reason that prayer is so important in order to be familiar with God, familiar with God’s way of speaking to us.
Maybe you have heard people say: “There are no vocations!” Even if we understand the meaning, I believe the expression is wrong, because it implies that God does not call people any more or now is calling fewer people. The truth is that He continues calling, but few respond. There are many factors that help in answering the call. The first one is prayer, as the Lord recommended in today’s Gospel passage. Second, we cannot put God as the last priority of our personal, professional or family lives. Finally, take for example the priest: holiness and faithfulness are difficult to achieve; therefore, each community needs to pray for perseverance on behalf of priests, as well as for their continued growth in holiness, and of course we need to ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
I encourage you to pray for those who have already responded to the call, and for those the Lord continues to call, that they will answer the invitation to work in the vineyard of the Lord, and that our own Parish will have its own vocation: a priest born and raised in Saint Martin of Tours.