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The Lord comes after his preachers

From the homilies of St. Gregory the Great, Pope, on the Gospels (Homily 17, 1-3)

Our Lord and Savior, beloved brethren, teaches us sometimes by his words, sometimes by his works and by his deeds. His deeds, in fact, are norms of conduct, since by them he tacitly gives us to understand what we ought to do. He commands his disciples to preach two by two, for the precept of charity is twofold, love of God and love of neighbor.

The Lord sends the disciples to preach two by two, and by this he indicates to us without words that he who has no love for others can in no way accept the ministry of preaching.

No wonder it is said that he sent them ahead of him to all the towns and places where he intended to go. The Lord comes after his preachers, for, having preceded the preaching, the Lord then comes to the dwelling place of the preachers of our interior, when it has been prepared by the words of exhortation which have opened our spirit to the truth. In this sense, Isaiah says to the preachers: Prepare a way for the Lord. For this reason, the psalmist also says to them: Carpet the way of him who goes up to the sunset. The Lord ascends above the sunset. For it was precisely in the decline of his passion that, by his resurrection, he made his glory more fully manifest. He ascends above the sunset, because, by his resurrection, he trampled underfoot the death he had suffered. For this reason we carpeted the path of the one who rises above the sunset when we proclaim his glory to you, so that he may come afterward and enlighten you with his loving presence.

Let us listen to what the Lord says to the preachers he sends into his fields: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest. Therefore, for an abundant harvest there are few laborers. To hear this, we cannot help but feel great sadness, because we have to recognize that, although there are people who want to hear good things, there is a lack of workers. There is a lack of those who dedicate themselves to proclaim these good things to them. Look at how the world, is full of priests, and yet it is very difficult to find a worker for the Lord’s harvest. We have received the priestly ministry, but we do not fulfill the duties of this ministry.

Think, therefore, beloved brethren, think well of what the Gospel says: Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Pray also for us, that our work for your good may be fruitful, and that our voice may never cease to exhort you, lest, after we have received the ministry of preaching, we be accused before the righteous Judge for our silence.