Looking Forward to Sunday: Harvest of Compassion

Rev. Daniel Eggold

Jun 7, 2020

Readings:

Exodus 19:2–8; Psalm 100; Romans 5:6–15; Matthew 9:35–10:8 (9–20)

Jesus sends out his disciples to labor for the kingdom. He uses the metaphor of a harvest. He says there is plenty to harvest but that there are not enough workers. The church has seen itself throughout the centuries as being sent to labor for the harvest. Most often, the assumption has been that the harvest is people, and the goal is making them members of the church. Much of the missionary impulse has been about increasing numbers and making more members.

    But notice how Jesus describes the labor of the harvest: proclaim, cure, cleanse, raise, cast out. The focus is not on making people a part of the church (although welcoming others is undoubtedly part of the good news). The goal of the labor—the harvest—is healing, helping, liberating, renewing. The world is full of unmet needs, and many people are suffering; hopelessness and despair abound. The harvest of the kingdom is a harvest of compassionate deeds.

    What happens when no one is available to harvest the crops? They sit in the field and eventually go bad.What happens to people when no one joins in the harvest of compassion? People continue to suffer, lives are diminished, and God’s intentions of abundant life for all are left to rot. Jesus is inviting all the baptized to join in the harvest of compassion, and the time is now.

    What happens when the church shifts its mission from harvesting people to harvesting acts of compassion? The church's witness becomes rooted in care for others and suffering is alleviated.The good news of Jesus is known in the great harvest of compassion and justice done in Jesus’ name. It begins at the table every Sunday, when we celebrate the feast of the kingdom that Jesus himself brought to fruition through his own life, death, and resurrection. May that gift now bear fruit in our lives by his grace.

Prayer

God of compassion, you have opened the way for us and brought us to yourself. Pour your love into our hearts, that, overflowing with joy, we may freely share the blessings of your realm and faithfully proclaim the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.