Tourists fill the hot, city streets in August, enjoying the fruits of their year’s work: harvesting the money they have saved, to spend on a trip of a lifetime, or just a few days away to enjoy the sites. Families with young, excited children are living out their dream holiday, visiting the shows and the fairgrounds, the palaces and the museums, and the high-rise viewing points that take their breath away, taking trips on the river or train journeys to the beach.
It is right that we can reap the rewards of our labours, having that break from the workplace, visiting somewhere new, to be re-energised, and feeling content that we have done a good job through the year. In the countryside, the fields of wheat and barley are turning white; they too are ready for harvesting. The tractors are already to-ing and fro-ing through the towns and villages at all times of day and night, bringing in the precious grain.
For the evangeliser, you and me, we too look toward the harvest. We look to the fruits and rewards of God’s Word that has been planted before us: sometimes on poor ground, sometimes on the path, but sometimes on the rich earth, received and fed and allowed to grow strongly, so that now it is ready to harvest, to bring home.
In our busy society, many who hear the Word, which brings light and hope, often ignore it; the seed doesn’t grow. For others, there is excitement at first; but they do not nurture a newly growing faith, and perhaps we miss opportunities to support them, and so it withers. Then there are those who welcome the Word, a message they have been longing to hear. Perhaps with our help the seed of faith grows to produce rich fruit, as they become new followers of Jesus Christ.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to share in the work of planting the seeds faith and helping them to grow, to speak out, to tell others about Jesus, to bring them to the knowledge that God loves them and is waiting for them. Speaking out is not always easy; there are many challenges to our faith which we may feel unprepared to meet. But we can learn how to become more confident in addressing challenges, to become expert witnesses of our faith. Catholic Voices is an organisation that, through their ‘Reframe’ programme for parishes, trains ordinary Catholics in public speaking, and so respond to the call of Pope Benedict during his 2010 visit that ‘we put the Church’s case, in the public square’. Further information on Reframe can be found on the Catholic Voices website.
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. We pray that God will send labourers, that he will give us the courage to go out into the world, to bring home those who are longing for God, to bring home the harvest.
Deacon Adrian Cullen