HOMILY: Reaping the Harvest Before Us

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 2/3, 2016

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

Over this past week, I had the opportunity to spend a few days with two of my best friends from college down in Houston, Texas.

It was the first time that the three of us had been together in almost 5 years and as soon as we got together, we could not help but reflect back on the 1st time the three of us travelled to Houston.

It was about a month after Hurricane Katrina and we convinced our Service Director at DeSales University to bring us down to Houston to help with hurricane relief.  I personally was convinced that we had to go.  We had to do something.  They needed us.

Well, the trip was certainly unforgettable.  And yet, in retrospect, I don’t know how much we actually helped.  It is hard to make a significant impact when you are only there for a few days. And yet, the trip made a significant impact on each of us.  It challenged our world views and taught us a tremendous amount about ourselves, each other, and our God.

At the end of the day, our travels to Houston helped us to see the true work to which we were called.

Flash forward a decade, and here we were, three friends catching up on where our journeys had taken us.

My one friend had been teaching in inner city Houston for almost a decade, before choosing to stop in preparation of hopefully fostering and then adopting several children.

My other friend was recently licensed as a nurse practioner in the US army and was just a few months away from the birth of her 1st child.

And here I was, celebrating my 3rd anniversary of ordination and preparing to transition into a new role as campus minister at Salesianum High School after serving as a Vice Principal at Nativity Prep for the last three years.

And as we shared our stories, I could not help but reflect on the Gospel reading for this weekend.

For each of our lives had truly borne an abundant harvest, a harvest that none of us would have anticipated in 2005.  

And yet, we each remember a moment in our journey when we sat on the edge of our beds and asked . . . What was I thinking?  

We recalled the moments in which the labor was hard . . . when patients died and students failed and loneliness took hold.

And yet, we had stayed in the garden.  We kept methodically plugging along.  And in the process, we reaped that harvest.

A harvest that included students who earned acceptance into private high schools.  Little preschoolers who learned their letters.  Veterans who walked out of the hospital and into the arms of a waiting spouse and child.  

A plethora of lives whose futures were forever changed because we were in them.

See I am convinced my friends that each of us has a harvest that awaits us in our own lives.

But it is so easy for us to miss because we presume that our harvest is somewhere else.  Or we presume that someone else will take care of our harvest.

But in the Gospel, Christ clearly reminds his disciples and us that our harvest will be found exactly where we are if we stay long enough to find it.

I believe that Christ’s directions to his disciples are so important for each of us as we strive to become the laborers that are needed today.

For one of his first invitations is to stay where one is welcomed.

It can be so easy today to simply stay detached.  We avoid commitment for fear of losing options.  We avoid settling down for fear of the monotony and boredom that we presume will come.

But Christ realized that the only way one can reap a harvest is if they stay long enough to cultivate the seeds that are sown into good fruit.

We need to be willing to invest our lives into the people that God has placed before us, even though that process will be frustrating, painful and boring from time to time.  We need to be willing to commit to the garden in which we are planted until he chooses to move us.

Christ also invites us to take what is set before us.

We are conditioned as Americans to choose, always seeking out our personal preferences and desires on everything from the TV shows we watch to the food we consume.  We are cultured to demand things on our timetable.  We want the instantaneous, the now.

But Christ realized that the only way one can reap a good harvest is if one persists through all of the different seasons that are necessary for good fruit to be cultivated.  

And so we must learn to accept what comes to us as laborers, whether it be sunshine or rain, fertile soul or arid rock, thorns, weeds or beautiful blossoms.  For out of it all comes the harvest which we seek.

And finally, he invites us to always return to him.  

To come before this altar, as we are, with whatever harvest we have in this moment as our offering.  Whether it be just the first fruits of a garden that is just beginning or the lifetime accumulation of a vineyard well-tended, our God desires it all.  And from that pure offering that we give, our God will continue to bless us and then send us out again to continue his work in the world.

The harvest is abundant my friends.

Let us be the laborers that God desires this day.

May God be Praised.

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