Step #1: Lectio / Read
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.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Would you like to hear one of my most awkward evangelization fails?
Years ago I was preparing for a meeting at church. A young man sat down in the narthex. I think Mass was going on at the time. Whenever I see someone at the church during Mass, but not actually in the church, I figure there's something going on. I took this as an evangelization opportunity.
I sat down next to him and started chatting. He was a young adult living in the area. Apparently he was a Christian, but not Catholic. His family was Catholic and they brought him to Mass, so he was feeling a little weird being there. Then he said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I figure our religions are pretty much all the same anyway, right?" There are so many reasons why I disagree with that statement, and I wasn't sure how to best answer it without sounding like a jerk. Suddenly I became uncomfortable with the conversation.
So I did what any good evangelizer would do: I got up and walked away.
That's right. I just gave him an awkward and confused smile... and left. To his credit, he tried to salvage the conversation as I abandoned him, realizing his comment made me uncomfortable. I think I mumbled something like, "What? Oh, no, it's fine. I just have to go get set up for a meeting."
It's super embarrassing telling that story, and I hope my evangelization skills have gotten much, much better since then. Because in today's reading, Jesus alludes to our important role in His mission of salvation. It's much more than just recruiting new Catholics...
First, let's look at verses 37-38: "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.'" Hey! That's us! If we know Jesus, that means we've been given the gift of faith, and we're called to share that with others.
But let's take a look at the verse before that: "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." We're not just recruiting people to increase our numbers. If we follow in Jesus' footsteps, we look at those who don't know Christ with compassion. They should stir our hearts because they are like sheep without a shepherd. They should remind us of ourselves when we too were without God's mercy for a time.
When we are close to Jesus, His heart beats within us. His compassion for His wandering children fills our own hearts. Our evangelization should be a response to Jesus' heart stirring within us for those He loves.
Unfortunately, I failed with that young man years ago. I approached him as if evangelization was a task. I wasn't ready to meet him where he was. My heart wasn't filled with compassion, just fear and awkwardness. The Lord calls for laborers for the harvest who look on His wandering sheep with pity because they are troubled and abandoned in sin. Laborers who will respond with the same love and mercy they themselves have been shown.
Are you one of His laborers?
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"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."
Talk to the Lord about the last few evangelization attempts you've made. How did they go? Have you tried to evangelize at all lately? Why or why not?
Ask Jesus to give you His heart. That it would beat with compassion for those who don't know Him.
Think of the people you're closest with in your life who don't know Jesus yet. Let the Lord's compassion and love for them fill your heart.
Ask the Holy Spirit for whatever you feel you need most to be a better laborer for His harvest.
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"They were like sheep without a shepherd."
"Lord, send out laborers for Your harvest."
"Jesus, let Your heart beat within me."
For the Rest of Your day...
Think of 2-3 people the Lord is placing on your heart. What practical steps could you take towards evangelizing them?
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.