11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The gospel begins with a beautiful image: Jesus looking over the crowds that are following after him. He delivered his sermon on the mount a while ago and had been curing the sick as he traveled from town to town preaching in the synagogues. His heart is filled with pity for them. They’re troubled. He has awakened feelings they’ve buried long ago, feelings of poverty and emptiness. They’re orphaned, motherless, fatherless, and abandoned – lost souls, sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus looks at the disciples around him and announces, “The harvest is abundant.” Then he picks his first twelve laborers: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas – what a group!
One will deny that he ever knew Jesus. Another will betray him by handing him over to the Jewish authorities. One will deny that Jesus rose from the dead. One, the tax collector, was a traitor to the Jewish nation. One was an assassin! How did they accept the call to labor in the vineyard of the Lord? They established many Christian communities in Italy, Syria, Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, and even India. Peter and James wrote letters to their communities instructing them in the Christian way of life. This group changed the world.
We’re the recipients of their labor. This account of the first disciples was given to us today so we could hear the same call they heard. “But I’m not good enough,” you might say. “I’m not learned enough,” you might protest! “I’m not holy enough.” Well, you’re not! And neither were they. But they said, “Yes.”
Jesus’ words are directed to us today: “Without cost, you have received. Without cost, you are to give.” He’s listening. Are you brave enough to say yes?
A third time the Lord called. “Samuel. Samuel.” Samuel answered: “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)