Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday in the 1st Week of Advent
Harvesters of Hope

Readings: Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Matthew 9:35—10:1, 5a, 6-8

Happy are all who hope in the Lord… So says the prophet in the response to our psalm today. And indeed, our readings paint for us vividly reassuring portraits of hope fulfilled.

When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the water of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer… Then moonlight will be bright as sunlight and sunlight itself seven times brighter… on the day the Lord dresses the wound of his people and heals the bruises his blows have left.

Who among us will not find ourselves deeply moved by these words, even as we call to mind the wounds and bruises of our world, our families and communities, and our own hearts? Likewise, will we not find even more consoling the gospel’s account of how Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus – how Jesus felt sorry for the crowds who were harassed and dejected, how he teaches and cures them?

Yet, more importantly perhaps, we might consider how Jesus responds to the plight of the multitudes who are like sheep without a shepherd. He doesn’t only minister to them himself, for even though he is the God-man, he is still only one man, and the harvest is rich. Instead, Jesus also calls and sends others, inviting them to share in his mission of reaping the Father’s great harvest of hope. And even in our own day, does the Lord not continue to move hearts to compassion and even to a righteous anger at the suffering that prevails among us? Does he not continue to send labourers into the harvest?

Still this sharing in the labours of Christ is not a thankless task. For, isn’t it by lending their hands to the harvest that the co-workers of Jesus might come to see their own hopes fulfilled? Isn’t it only when we, in our turn, learn to give without charge what we have received without charge that we will begin truly to taste the happiness of our hope in the Lord?

In which corner of the Lord’s field are we being sent to reap a harvest of hope today?

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