Let us lectio: the laborers are few
Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church, June 13, 2022
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read Callie's meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'"
As I sat down to work on this reflection, I expected to hear from God about the radical need to follow Him and spread the Gospel pervasively throughout the world, a call that every Catholic, and Christian, shares by nature of our Baptism. However, the reading focuses on those who are called to more intensely follow Him, for from out of all His followers He "appointed seventy-two other disciples whom He sent ahead of Him."
In this reading, the laborers are to leave without extra supplies as they would get in the way and mission of God. The seventy-two are called out from the throng of disciples in order to dedicate themselves more intently on Christ’s mission of service. To these, the "bringing" of extra supplies does not mean that God wishes them to be unprepared or ill-equipped, but rather this is an instruction to leave their preconceived notions and insecurities. Bringing extra money, a bag, sandals, etc., is an expression of insecurity and of being unprepared, rather than of trust and readiness. Jesus ensures that they have what they need for this task and not that which would hinder them.
St. Anthony heard and answered the call to religious life, that is, to live radical simplicity in pursuit of the love of God and neighbor. He did so within community, first among the Augustinians and then later the Franciscans as a priest by administering the sacraments to the other friars, especially the Eucharist.. A Franciscan call to religious life also emphasizes poverty which is less about doing without and more about living radically dependent on God. Owning nothing and supporting each other, the friars depend on God for all their needs.
Christ implores us to trust in Him and His mission, and for us to join with Him in His work, so that we may share in its dignity and harvest both. In a unique and radical way, St. Anthony embodies this Gospel reading and beckons us to do the same. Today may we breathe and listen to where we are being called to live more radically dependent on Him in the service of the Gospel, seeking His will and not our own.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is a regular contributor to the North Texas Catholic.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.