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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 9-12): Gifts for Kingdom Work


During Jesus' time on earth, he speaks often about the Kingdom of God. He shows people glimpses of the Kingdom of God, too, when he performs miracles. Always, always, he invites others to share in his work of bringing about the Kingdom of God here on earth. In the Gospel for this Sunday we see the beginning of this sharing of the work of the Kingdom.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus feels compassion for the crowds. They are harassed and helpless—probably miserable—they need someone to lead them.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

When Jesus looks out at the crowds, he sees that they need a leader, but he also sees that "the harvest is plentiful." First, he thinks of shepherds; now, he thinks of farmers. Jesus knows about working hard on this earth.

Photo by Tom Hauk on Unsplash

When the harvest comes, all the work of growing crops on the earth comes to completion. People work hard together to collect, prepare, and store the gifts of the earth. People celebrate and feast. They store food for the winter. The earth and the work of human hands produce plenty—an abundance—enough and more than enough for all. So much gift.

If people do not work hard together, though, the gifts of the earth will spoil and no one will eat.

When Jesus sees the crowds, he sees their gifts. He sees an abundance. But he sees that they need someone to lead them. They need people to organize them, to work hard together to collect, harness, and use the gifts they have been given. The Kingdom of God has come near. The harvest is now.

So what does Jesus do?

First, he tells them to pray to God for labourers to help harvest the gifts of the people. Pray to God for labourers to lead them.

Photo by Warren on Unsplash

And then?

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Start small, Jesus says. The Gentiles and Samaritans—do not worry about these people just yet. Look around you. The people among you right now, the lost sheep right here—they need you.

As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of God has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.

Tell people the Kingdom of God has come near, and then do the work of the Kingdom.

Photo by Susan G. Komen 3-Day on Unsplash

Cure the sick.

In the fullness of the Kingdom of G-d,

there will be no more suffering.

Work for health.

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Raise the dead.

In the fullness of the Kingdom of G-d,

death will be no more.

Work for life.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Cleanse the lepers.

In the fullness of the Kingdom of G-d,

no one is set apart,

but brought into community.

Work to include people.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Cast out demons.

In the fullness of the Kingdom of G-d,

evil has no place.

Work for good.

“You received without payment; give without payment.”

Jesus does not charge them for the gifts he gives them. He just asks them to give their gifts freely for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

“You received without payment; give without payment.”

Jesus says this to the apostles. Does he not say this also to us?

Each of us has been given many gifts. Often we do an "examination of conscience," looking carefully at ourselves to find the times we have sinned. But do we stop to do an "examination of our gifts"? What gifts have we received?

We can ask ourselves, am I:

  • hard-working

  • kind

  • cooperative

  • strong?

Am I:

  • thoughtful

  • artistic

  • independent

  • loyal?

Am I:

  • honest

  • enthusiastic

  • courageous

  • helpful?

Am I:

  • warm-hearted

  • friendly

  • athletic

  • joyful?

Am I:

  • dependable

  • creative

  • logical

  • reflective?

Am I :

  • funny

  • serious

  • a good learner

  • a good teacher?

Am I, Lord?

I am.

Why am I?

We have done nothing to earn these gifts. We have received an abundance—plenty—without payment. So now what?

Now we pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers into the field. The disciples pray, and the next thing they know, they are summoned.

So we pray.

Your kingdom come, your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

And we wait for the summons.

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