CALL TO PRAYER
“The Christ-centered mission of each school, by its very nature, contains a call to service in the greater community. ”
(Renewing the Promise: A Pastoral Letter for Catholic Education,
Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. 2018.)
In any given year, at any Catholic high school in our province, we see students and staff working together on food drives, Advent/Christmas hamper programs, Lent/Easter solidarity initiatives, partnerships with schools and communities around the world, and as many unique charity drives/initiatives as there are students in our schools. Students are a testament to the incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit for as soon as they see a need, they organize and plan to do something to help. This week, we honour the work we have done, and have yet to do, for there will always be work to do to make our world better today than it was yesterday, better tomorrow than it is today.
And so we begin with the sign of our faith:
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus, you who have called so many different people into discipleship, help me to respond to the needs of those in the world who could use some help. In our present circumstances of global pandemic and isolation, it is easy for us to lose hope, because we can feel alone, or feel we are the only ones who care. But we know that fear is overcome by solidarity, and that by working together as part of a faith community, we can live out the promise you made to your disciples, “As long as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.” Give us strength to work together in your name, for a better world. Through your Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 9:35-38
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing every disease, and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 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.”
What does it mean to be one of the labourers that Jesus is referring to in this Gospel passage? Through our baptism, we become members of Christian family. As members of this family, we are called to certain responsibilities for our fellow family members and the home in which we live.
Jesus brought hope to the world, especially to the most marginalized and vulnerable, but it was not God’s plan to leave the work to Jesus alone! Jesus called his disciples to do this work with him – work of healing, helping, and hoping with others – and to continue it after he left this world. Through our baptism, our God calls us to do the same.
We all have been blessed with different gifts, talents, and abilities that allow us to care for different aspects of our homes and our family members, our communities, and the earth which sustains us. Some of us are well suited to research to help solve problems with our environment, economic, or social systems. Some us possess gifts that allow us to help people directly, caring for them in times of need. Our hope for the world is that each individual will recognize how their gifts can be used for the common good, and that each of us will be given the opportunity to do so.
We cannot solve all of the world’s problems on our own, but we each have our own part to play, with God’s strengthening grace to help us in our work. Some of us will focus on our environment, others on children, others on the poor, and others on the elderly – but labouring side by side with one another, we can do the work of Jesus, to take care of and restore our whole home and all who dwell in it.
Spend a moment with your eyes closed, focused on your breathing.
Reach for that still place within yourself where God resides.
Spend a few moments with God, asking the Holy One to help you reflect on the following:
- What ‘labour’ is God calling me to participate in? Who or what needs caring for that I feel I could help?
- Who are the ‘labourers’ that I admire? How are they bringing hope to our world?
- Our usual ways of living out our calling have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. How might I still be able to offer help and hope to others at this time? What could I plan to do when this pandemic is over?
Trusting that God knows what is in my heart better than I do, l lift up in prayer the many people in my home, my neighbourhood, my province, my country and the world.
I pause and think about the people with whom I am in the house…I imagine what my parents may be feeling, what their lives have been like, what their concerns may be for me, my siblings, their parents, for themselves?…what might their worries, their fears, their dreams, their hopes be?…what might they want from God?…What might they be hoping for but are afraid to voice out loud?
I pause and think about the people in my neighbourhood…the people living next door and next door and next door…are the parents out of work? Working from home? Losing their businesses? Playing parent, teacher, counselor, friend to their children? What might they be wanting, hoping for from God?…What about their children, what might they be going through?…Are they feeling much the same as I am, wanting to be back at school with their friends, to be with people who understand them differently than their parents, tired of the same walls every hour of every day?…could they be as worried and anxious as the grown-ups around us?…What might the children in this neighbourhood want from God?
I pause and think about all the people in Ontario…the shop owners, the professionals, the labourers, the executives, the part-time employers, the full-time employers, the mothers and fathers, the single-parents, the divorced, the remarried, the refugees and immigrants, the nurses, respiratory therapist, doctors, all the healthcare workers, the elderly, the teenagers, the homeless, those trying to escape difficult situations…all these unique and multitude of people with their unique pasts…all these people with hopes and dreams for their lives, for their future…what might they want and hope from God?
I pause and think about all the people in my country and around the world…the countless faces and ages and ethnicities and cultures and stories that make up humanity…I think about all the different situations in which people may find themselves…I imagine the profound needs that exist in our world by all these people…what might we all want from God if we could come together and name it and voice it out loud, loud enough for all to hear?
I pray this, whatever this is that is awakening from deep within me.
May this stirring within me lead me to be God’s answer to the needs in this world:
today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, for the rest of my life.
God of Compassion,
You created our world in Your love, to be a place where all life would come to be and flourish.
The struggle has been long and real
between those who want to exploit the peoples and all creation
and those who want to protect all peoples and all creation.
As much as greed, conflict and apathy have destroyed our world,
so has goodness, solidarity, beauty and truth reclaimed it.
Help me see my place within Your work of art that is our common home,
to make it a place of hospitality and encounter.
Through Your Holy Spirit, lead me to the others with whom I will be working.
Let me join my place with them, giving witness to our actions,
restoring our home as the place You envisioned it and created it.
Let justice and peace be my mission, with others
and may we not stop until every corner of this big, beautiful world reflects Your glory.
Through Your Son, our Lord, whose life brought heaven on earth.
+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“In a world marked by poverty, oppression and war,
we are commanded to work for justice and peace.” This Moment of Promise, 1989