Daily Reflection
July 11th, 2006

Mary Haynes Kuhlman

English Department
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Memorial of St. Benedict, abbot
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13
Psalm 115:3-10
Matthew 9:32-38

Today’s readings start with the passage from the prophet Hosea about worshipping false gods. The Psalm responds that “The house of Israel trusts in the Lord.” Then in the Gospel narrative, Jesus casts out demons and cures diseases.

We have plenty of psychological demons and diseases in our culture: fraud and waste, anger and malice, racist reactions, deceptive and exploitive internet sites, selfishness of all kinds, war and terrorism, addictions to drugs and gambling – and those just begin the list of the troubles of our times

So as Jesus is moved to compassion for the crowds of his time, “because they were troubled and abandoned” (or “harassed and helpless” or whatever your translation says), we know that today we suffer similar troubles and sicknesses and evil influences. We are “troubled” and “helpless” and can only “trust in the Lord.” Next Jesus uses agricultural images that people all over the world, even city folks, can understand: we are “like sheep without a shepherd.” The “harvest” needs workers, and he asks his disciples to pray for “laborers for his harvest.”

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, the founder of monastic life in Western Christianity. About a thousand years before St. Ignatius Loyola lived and founded the Society of Jesus, Benedict wanted to go off alone and be a hermit, living only to worship God. But he was sought out by others with similar desires, and so he founded religious community life and composed the great Rule of St. Benedict by which so many lived in Benedictine communities for so many centuries. Benedict was certainly a great laborer for the harvest – in fact, a good shepherd. Benedictines today are known for their schools and scholarship, and also for their charity and hospitality. Good laborers and shepherds indeed. The many later-founded religious communities have also provided shepherds and laborers for God’s people.

For us trying to follow the word of Jesus and the example of St. Benedict, “community” is both the problem and the solution. The culture around us distracts us and leads us astray. But we also experience, and even seek out the “shepherding” of the good people in our lives, the Church, and the Scriptures – it’s always “harvest” time, even in the midst of July.

Our prayer today can be of thanks and especially petition: Thanks for the “laborers for his harvest” that he has sent to work for us all. Petition – as Jesus asks his disciples to pray for laborers – we can all pray that God will send the laborers, but some of us should pray to BE the laborers. You know how in family life, the complaint is that the teenager can walk around the pile of laundry that needs to be carried upstairs, or “would never think to wash a dish.” I’m not maligning teenagers here – it’s just that the near-adults in the home tend to draw this type of observation, that they just don’t see the chores to be done. Today I pray that I may see that metaphorical laundry to be moved or dish to be washed. Lord, show me what labor I can do for your harvest today.

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