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Matthew 9: 32-38 – Week 14 Ordinary Time, Tuesday (King James Audio Bible KJV, Spoken Word)

32 ¶ As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.
35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36 ¶ But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Matthew’s account of Jesus’ healing of the dumb man through exorcism, by casting out the demon possessing him, is brief, and in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus does not respond to the Pharisees’ malicious accusation, as if to say, their evil is evident and does not merit response. Rather, Jesus pours immense effort into his Galilean ministry, teaching and healing, and bringing the people to God.

The situation of the people to whom Jesus ministers must have been truly desperate. Their illnesses were many, and these themselves a manifestation of real underlying evils, of their material and spiritual abandonment. They are as sheep without a shepherd. The religious leaders do not help them to be strong to endure with God’s help; rather the people are taught that illness is God’s punishment for sin. It seems there is so little love in the religion of the day, when in truth God Himself is love, as Jesus came to prove to us absolutely, once and for all. The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. There is so much suffering and poverty, and so much love and selflessness lacking and needed to claim the people for God. The Pharisees are certainly incapable of this task. Theirs is the historically falsified, official religion, which left so many excluded and despised.

These verses of the Bible conclude the narrative account of chapters eight and nine, and lead into the second great discourse of Jesus, the Discourse of the Mission, in chapter ten. It is fitting, then, that we are asked to pray for there to be labourers for God’s harvest. This is a prayer for vocation, and an injunction to us all to play a part in the apostolate, to bring the knowledge of God to the world and the world to God. Our own times are similarly clogged with obstacles that stand in the way between people and God, whether poverty or the malaise of crass over-consumption, and the spiritual and physical disease that comes thereby. Through prayer, we are asked to align ourselves ever more closely with God’s intentions, such that we may continue Jesus’ work, reflecting Jesus’ light, as shining lights in a fallen world.

Concluding Prayer

True Light of the world, Lord Jesus Christ,
as you enlighten all men for their salvation,
give us grace, we pray,
to herald your coming
by preparing the ways of justice and of peace.
Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

King James Audio Bible KJV | King James Version | Endnotes

The Harvest Truly Is Plenteous, But The Labourers Are Few

The passage in Matthew 9:32-38 recounts a scene in which Jesus heals a mute man possessed by a devil. Jesus then sees the crowds of people who have gathered to witness this miracle. Jesus is moved with compassion, and Jesus tells his disciples: ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.’

Jesus highlights a crucial aspect of the Christian mission: the need for more workers to spread the Gospel and bring people into the kingdom of God.

One of the earliest Christian leaders to emphasize the importance of evangelism was the apostle Saint Paul, who wrote in Romans 10:14-15: ‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?’ Saint Paul saw himself as a sent messenger of the Gospel, and he encouraged other believers to share the good news with those who had not yet heard it.

The importance of evangelism was also emphasized by early Church fathers such as Saint Augustine of Hippo, who wrote in his Confessions: ‘For all those whom Thou hast predestined, Thou hast also called; and those whom Thou hast called, Thou hast also justified; and those whom Thou hast justified, Thou hast also glorified. Therefore, no one ought to say to himself, “I am not called,” for he is not yet justified; nor should he say, “I am not justified,” for he is not yet glorified.’

Protestant reformers also emphasized the importance of evangelism and missions. Martin Luther wrote: ‘We must not sit still and look for miracles; up and doing, and the Lord will be with thee. Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ Jesus, will do anything.’ Similarly, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, wrote: ‘You have one business on earth – to save souls.’

In more recent times, evangelism and missions have been a central focus of many Christian movements and organizations. The evangelist Billy Graham, for example, preached to millions of people around the world and urged Christians to share the Gospel with others. Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun who ministered to the poor in India, saw her work as a form of evangelism, saying, ‘We are not social workers. We do it for Jesus, for the salvation of souls, for the glory of God.’

Despite the importance of evangelism, however, many Christians today struggle with sharing their faith with others. Some may feel inadequate or unsure of what to say, while others may be afraid of rejection or persecution. In his book, Evangelism And The Sovereignty Of God, theologian J.I. Packer writes: ‘We must be ready to risk embarrassment, rejection, or even persecution as we speak for Christ. But our confidence is not in ourselves, our methods, or our message. It is in the Lord of the harvest, who has promised to be with us always.’

Ultimately, the message of Matthew 9:32-38 is a call to action for all Christians. The harvest is indeed plenteous, but labourers are few. We must pray for God to send more workers into his harvest, and we must be willing to answer that call ourselves. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’

Mission For Christians

This Great Commission is a call for every Christian to be a witness for Christ and share the good news of salvation with those who have not yet heard it.

In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wrote: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.’ (Galatians 5:22-23) When we bear these fruits of the Spirit, we demonstrate the power of God at work in our lives, and people are drawn to the love and peace that we possess.

Jesus himself modeled this kind of witness, not only by preaching the Gospel but also by ministering to people’s physical and emotional needs. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and comforted the brokenhearted. In doing so, he showed that the love of God was not just a message to be proclaimed but also a reality to be experienced.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of evangelism and sharing the Gospel with others. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote: ‘The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 1)

Pope Francis has called on Christians to be ‘missionary disciples’, who not only receive the Gospel but also share it with others. He wrote: ‘In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 120)

Moreover, Pope Francis has stressed the importance of showing mercy and compassion to those who are suffering and marginalized, as a way of demonstrating the love of Christ. He has said: ‘The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.’ (Interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, September 2013)

Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of evangelism and sharing the Gospel with others, but he also emphasizes the importance of showing mercy and compassion to those who are suffering and marginalized. This approach aligns with the message of Matthew 9:32-38, where Jesus not only preached the Gospel but also ministered to people’s physical and emotional needs.