Diocesan Pastoral Council – December 2006

“He was moved with pity for them.” If we are to be worthy of the name “Christian”, we should strive to make his thoughts our thoughts, his desires our desires, his feelings our feelings – or at Saint Paul says, we should put on the mind of Jesus Christ.

And if we do “put on the mind of Christ”, and if we look through his eyes at the world around us and its history, we would be unable to avoid feeling in our hearts the same sentiments that filled the heart of our Lord. To reflect on the spiritual needs of the world – and not just the world in the abstract, but our world – the world of our families, the world of our colleagues, the world of our community, our parishes, the world we inhabit, to reflect on the spiritual needs of these worlds should lead us all to be tirelessly apostolic.  How can we not be involved, if we like Jesus are move with pity for them, troubled and abandoned.

I believe that our participation in our Synod – I can never fail to thank you enough for your commitment – I believe that our participation in the Synod has communicated to us all the urgency of the task before us.  We set out to “Start afresh from Christ” convinced that, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading:  “This is the way: walk in it”.

During the Synod, through our listening sessions, our research, our planning sessions, which culminated in the recommendations presented at the Assembly in that very big book, we have identified the spiritual needs that our people have – and now we cannot abandoned them and leave them like sheep without shepherds.

Jesus is moved with pity for the crowd; but he also senses great opportunity. He uses the image of a harvest, a harvest that is ripe and abundant, to show that that same crowd is ready to receive the effects of Redemption.  The cultivation of the prophets has not been in vain, the fields are full of ripe wheat.

I believe that our Synod has identified the spiritual needs that our people have; but I also believe that the Synod also has shown us that an abundant harvest does await us.

And, of course, even if much of Central Florida has been paved over, we still can appreciate these agricultural images.  In farm work, you know that the harvest can be lost if the farmer does not reap at the right time.  As so as Church – and this is as true today as it has been since the beginning – we have to feel the urgency of getting out there and harvesting because there is a great harvest to be won.

And yet, as always, there is a shortage of laborers and so Jesus tells us to pray – and of course the more you pray for laborers, the more you accept to become a laborer yourself.  Which is one reason why we begin today’s meeting with this Mass, this perfect prayer.

You have seen the needs.  You have been moved to compassion – and also to action. You are the laborers sent into the harvest.  We have three leadership groups represented here today – the Diocesan Pastoral Council, and Schools’ Implementation Task Force, and Charities Implementation Task Force – and soon, the fourth leadership group, Catholic Foundation team will also be operational.  As Isaiah said, “This is the way” – and we will walk in it in order to continue to encounter Christ, the Way to Conversion, the Way to Communion, the Way to Solidarity, it is the Way of Mission.

In the weeks and months to come, may the Lord sustain us in our commitment to remain tirelessly apostolic as we prepare to reap the harvest sown through our Diocesan Synod.
We must be committed to grow personally in our faith.  We must be committed to continue to lead others in our parishes to the vision that has been revealed in our synod plan.  We must be committed to share our witness, announcing that “that the Kingdom of God is at hand”.  This is our witness to hope, to the hope that can “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons”.  It is a witness makes us alive in Christ.
“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Diocesan Pastoral Council
Dec. 9, 2006
Saturday, First Week of Advent