Continuing the theme of discipleship begun a few weeks ago, in this week’s Gospel, Luke further elucidates the need for disciples in the world. This passage is often used for vocation recruitment materials: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Indeed, each of us is encouraged to pray for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Yet, prayer is not enough.
Prayer only goes so far. If our prayer is not coupled with cooperation with God’s will and concretized in action, prayer loses its effectiveness. As Paul talks about in his Letter to the Corinthians, action without love reduces a person to a clanging cymbal or a gong. I would venture to say the same about prayer: If all we do is pray, but take no steps to actualize the prayer, it is as if we are like a clanging cymbal—reciting words but doing nothing to back them up.
As Christians, all of our actions must somehow be linked to love and prayer. Conversely, our love and prayer should issue forth in concrete activity. Just as I cannot claim to be a loving Christian if I do not feed the hungry, so too, I cannot merely pray for more vocations without asking someone to consider religious life or encouraging those in a religious vocation.
How many of you who are married with children or grandchildren have asked them to think about a vocation to religious life? I suspect very few. Why? You want more grandchildren or great grandchildren. Or perhaps some of you know about the trials and tribulations of a religious vocation and want to spare your loved ones those difficulties. Perhaps some may fear that the religious life is a dumping ground for those who are deviants or misfits and you don’t want to subject your child to that way of life. There are a host of reasons why we fail to invite people to consider a religious vocation. But if we expect to have laborers for the harvest, we need to not only pray but we also need to ask.
Consider asking someone (especially someone close to you) this week to explore a religious vocation. Invite that person to be attentive to God’s will in his or her life whether God is calling that person to religious life or to marriage or to the single life. Pray for those whom you think might make good priests, deacons, or religious sisters or brothers. Pray that God will open their hearts and minds to truly discern His will for them in their lives.