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Lectio Divina - 11th Sunday of the Year - 15th June 2023


Carl Heinrich Bloch was a Danish painter born in 1834, Bloch's love and admiration for Rembrandt and the old Master became a major driving force in his development as an artist.

He was then commissioned to produce 23 paintings for the King's Chapel at Frederiksborg Palace. These were all scenes from the life of Christ which have become very popular as illustrations. The originals, including Christ Consolator, were painted between 1865 and 1879, and are still at Frederiksborg Palace, now the Danish Museum of Natural History.

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day has made heavy use of Bloch's paintings in their publications and churches because of the lack of Catholic motifs such as halos and wings, which has helped to make his artworks more comfortable to Protestant audiences.


Lectio



Matthew 9:39 – 10:9

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.


Meditatio

A new section begins here, after a first stage, grouped around the Sermon on the Mount and where Jesus expressed the bases of his message and began to manifest the unique authority that he possesses by doing some miraculous signs... Here is a new stage grouped around an Apostolic Sermon and where Jesus is going to associate people to his mission.


He saw the crowd and was filled with pity. The gaze, regard, the look of Jesus. There are many ways of looking, of looking but not seeing, the Lord does not see like the world sees. The geek word used for compassion means literally: moved in one’s entrails (what we consider the heart today). It emphasises a deep and intense emotional response. And what was the spectacle that caused this eyes to well-up and feel this way?


The people were harassed and helpless, distressed and dispirited, faint and scattered, confused and aimless, unable to go on. Jesus saw in the crowd, an immense weariness and profound disgust in front of the absurdity of a life with no meaning. This is not the Father’s will and Jesus feels great pity. They are like sheep with no shepherd, like people without God.


Has the situation of the world’s poor changed much since the time of Jesus? Has the regard of Jesus on humanity changed, is it different from what it was? And what about us? Are we not invited to regard the crowds? [today one-in-four people globally, 1.9 billion, are moderately or severely food insecure][1].


The moral misery of those who feel they have failed, those who feel neglected, who do not feel loved. The collapse of those who let themselves go, taking drugs… who destroy themselves little by little. The whole world is before our eyes, now with television and the internet. And not only in developing countries, though difficult to know exactly, in 2021, London had recorded 3,307 people sleeping rough on the streets. What regard do we give these realities?


The harvest is great, the labourers are few. Jesus sees humanity like a field of ripe wheat, the harvest is there, ready, the joy of the harvest but with few workers. Jesus notes the immensity of the work that is his, he wants collaborators.


Prayer is the first missionary reflex. Why ask in prayer? God has immense respect for human responsibility; God needs us! An immense enigma: the necessity of intersession. Prayer opens us to work in this field. The first labourer that God has on hand is you - if you pray, don’t simply pray to send others to the field, you go ahead! I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I, send me. Isaiah 6:8


We worry much about the immensity of the task, especially of the method, though before we make hypothesis on the how, we must first be conscience of the profound nature of the mission: it’s not our affair. We don’t work on our account. We are in the Lord’s field, it’s His harvest (who wants all to be saved, 1Tim 2:4[2]). Hence the priority of prayer over all methods.


Jesus calls 12 disciples. Jesus has no intention of realising the work of the Father all by himself, he confides his project and his power to the apostles; twelve chosen out of those who follow him. The ministerial priesthood takes it’s source from here, in the will of Jesus to structure his Church.


The gospels give us the list of the disciples 4 times, with some small differences but a maximum of agreement. Matthew groups them two by two, this is not by chance, the composition of the team is significant. Jesus chose as his intimate companions, a tax collector who worked with the Romans and a zealot who was an ultra-nationalist, opposed to the Romans. Wouldn’t it be essential for the Church to be pluralistic, capable of assuming differences and conflicts of the world ~ to resolve them in a superior communion. (Matt 5:46: If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? If you love only those who are like you…).


Finally, there must be humility in the Church. In it’s leaders themselves: In the first place, Simon Peter, who disavowed Jesus and in the last, Judas, who delivered him to the executioners. A rather poor team, strong only in this mysterious choice Jesus made (Jn 15:15: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.).


Jesus sends them. Go! Leave! But we notice the field is very limited, in contrast to the universal mission that will be given after the resurrection: Go to the whole world, to all people, make disciples…baptise…teach! (Matt 28:19-20)[3]. It’s not that the mission was limited to the Jews, though humanly speaking they could not do everything, they had to start somewhere, they started with the Jews, who were God’s chosen people, who were waiting for the Messiah.


Go, leave, you are sent ~ our liturgical celebrations end this way, to go into the world and share the Good News. The Church assembled for the Eucharist is prophetic: it speaks of God’s plan: to assemble in unity all the children of God dispersed. The first task of the Church is not to recruit but to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.


Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out the demons. The symbolic formula to express the project of God. The Reign of God has already begun. The difference between the believer and the atheist is that the believer listens deep within to what is life and knows from where it comes. Believing God is directing history and participates as consciously as possible, in making life prevail.


Oratio


Jesus' Compassionate Gaze


Grant us abundant grace to cultivate compassion,

see beyond surfaces,

and respond with genuine love.


In this vast harvest of brokenness,

we humbly acknowledge our immense responsibility

as laborers in Your fields.


Teach us dependence on You through prayer.

May it be our refuge, where we find solace, renewal,

and the courage to embrace our unique vocation.


Grant us audacity to step out in faith, guiding us to places where your love is needed most.

Remind us of our authority to bring healing

and proclaim Your Kingdom in the face of challenges.


Contemplatio


1. How does the image of the plentiful harvest and the scarcity of laborers resonate with the realities of our world today? What are the pressing spiritual, emotional, and physical needs that surround us, and how can we respond to them with compassion and love?


2. Reflect on the authority that Jesus bestowed upon his disciples to heal, cast out demons, and proclaim the Kingdom of God. How does this authority extend to us as modern-day disciples? In what ways can we exercise this authority in our daily lives to bring about healing, liberation, and the message of salvation?


3. How does Jesus' instruction to make disciples invite me to reflect on my own role as a follower of Christ and how can I deepen my commitment to fulfilling this mission in my own life and spheres of influence?


4. Contemplate the concept of discipleship and the call to be laborers in the harvest. What does it mean to you personally to be a labourer in God's mission? How can you actively participate in sharing the Gospel, embodying Christ's love, and being an instrument of healing and transformation in the lives of others?

[1] Ourworldindata.org [2] [God] who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. [3] The Great Commission: One of these four imperatives is the theological centre, which do you choose: to go, to make, to baptise or to teach? The answer: the finite verb to make, literally to make disciples, this is the heart of the Great Commission. From Divine Renovation p.19

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