26 January 2006: Feast of Sts. Timothy and Titus
Luke 10, 1-9: The Harvest is Great, the Laborers are Few
The Gospel today gives us a wider mission: as workers for the harvest. This mission is intended not just for special people like priests and nuns, but for all of us. You see the Gospel mentions “seventy men” who were sent by Jesus. The number 70 was for the Jews symbolic. It was held that during Jesus’ time that there were 70 nations in the world. And thus, Luke whose Gospel we read today used the number 70 to mean that the mission of Jesus is for all nations; and therefore, the mission is for all of us. We are sent that all people will hear about Jesus, love Jesus and follow Jesus. Secondly, it also means that the harvest is assured. What are needed are laborers to harvest. We can be laborers. But what can be harvested, and how can we harvest? What can be harvested are blessings or graces; and thus we harvest by receiving our blessings.
Most of us have been given many more blessings than we have received. We do not take time to be blessed or make the space for it. We may have filled our lives so full of other things that we have no room to receive our blessings. Blessings are all over our lives, but they are waiting for our time and our attention for them to enter our hearts.
Martin Buber reminds us that just to live is holy. Just to be as we are is a blessing. If he is right, what prevents us from receiving our blessings? I believe it is not the lack of time. Often times we may have not realized or recognized a blessing when it is given or we may have ideas about how life should be, how people should behave, how events should have happened that keep us from experience life as it should be. We may have frozen ourselves in the past that we believe that what we had experienced before, our past decisions which made us who we are, our past triumphs should and must always happen to those who come after us, particularly our children. It is often difficult to accept that their dreams are not the same as our dreams, their decisions are not the same us our choices, and the events that happen to them are not the same as the struggles we had encountered. But being frozen and being caught up in the past shields us from receiving the blessings of the present. Or, we may become so caught up with what is missing in the world, what is lacking in people, what is events should have never have happened, that we allow our hearts to break, that we may have felt empty in the midst of all our graces.
We can bless others only when we feel blessed ourselves. Blessing life sometimes means that we should learn how to celebrate life than how to fix it. With a lot of darkness in the world, we may have lost our eye for joy. Often we look and judge life in order to move things forward, or we may have let our anger change the world, and we may have been too critical of others including our children and co-workers, hoping that our being critical of them will change them and their decisions. To receive our blessings often means having the humility to accept that we cannot change the world, or restore the world alone.
I guess this is what it means about Jesus’ saying that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. The laborers are few because there are many things that shield us from recognizing our harvest. Some blessings do go when not recognized at the right time. A good friend is right in front of you, but you let them pass. A deeper relationship is right ahead of us only if we take a 360-degree turn of telling the truth about how one feels, but we let it go afraid the present relationship might change. An opportunity to be closer to a loved one comes right by and we let them pass because our fears to express our love prevent us from expressing them. Only to realize that receiving the blessing is too late. As Peter Parker said in Spiderman II, “In doing the right thing, sometimes we need to sacrifice our dreams.” Let me add, “In order to love someone as dearly as possible, sometimes we need to sacrifice our work and our one way of dealing with life.”
Sometimes our wounds open us to see our blessings and thus see different ways of receiving such blessings. People who have suffered serious illnesses and great tragedies often have let go a great deal, but their wounds have allowed them to realize what and who is more important to them.
Therefore, as laborers, let us harvest our blessings by opening our eyes to see them in our lives. We desire the greatest blessing possible. Well, in Latin, desiderie or desire means to be beside the stars. To be beside our blessings.