By Deacon John DeGano
Summer time. We know it by the rise in temperature during the day and the slowness of cooling off in the evening. People vacation. Hang out at the beach. Or just make use of the air conditioning at the Mall, the movie theatre or the library. Even ‘cool centers’ are set up to provide comfort to the local senior citizens during the hot spells that can occur in southern California between June and October.
And perhaps for these same reasons, ministries at our parish close up shop for the summer; go dormant or else, operate with a skeleton crew.
In the Bible Jesus is quoted as saying that ‘the harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few.’
Is this because there is truly a lack of workers or is it because for whatever reason, it is inconvenient for the ministers to serve? Are they traveling? Sleeping in? Avoiding the heat, while sinners are left to their own devices and are slowly descending into the fiery pit of Hell?
Well, maybe I’m stretching things a bit. Summer here can sometimes feel like that… but if we are going ‘dark’ for the day, week or summer, shouldn’t we have someone or some way to respond to those seeking assistance in the meantime?
Maybe training of some sort on how to respond to their questions? Or an emergency telephone number to call and leave a message when the automatic phone message machine gets full? We miss many opportunities to be welcoming and meet the needs of our community when we do not have a contingency plan in place.
What’s God’s contingency plan? What will God do if the laborers do not show up? What will that do to the time schedule if they can not bring the sheaves in in the designated timeframe?
Will the rapture be postponed? Will we have to live through nuclear annihilation before being rescued into the air by the Lord and his army of angels? What if the author of Revelations got it all wrong? After all, the word rapture came along hundreds of years after Jesus’ time when Jerome penned his Latin Bible.
In his parable, Jesus talks about those who were supposed to be invited to the party not showing up and the angels being instructed to go out and bring in people off the street to replace them. If we say that the invited lost their place for being too busy with unimportant things while those who had little to do and were willing to step into their shoes and labor for the Lord received the reward of heaven, then what are our chances of getting into heaven?
Are we too busy? Do we ignore others? If someone asked us why we attend church, would we be able to, as St. Peter advocated in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”
Jesus is our hope. And if today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart. Drop everything and answer.
He may just have a job for you.
John DeGano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverside.