contending or tending?
"You have contended with divine and human beings." —Genesis 32:29
Jacob contended with a messenger of God in a wrestling match and prevailed (Gn 32:25, 29; Hos 12:5). "As a man he contended with God" (Hos 12:4). There's a Jacob lurking inside of each of us. Jesus calls us to beg the Father for laborers for the harvest and to answer our prayer by becoming one of those laborers ourselves (Mt 9:37-38). Yet how often do we contend with God for long periods of time spending more time and energy trying to avoid God's call instead of answering it? (cf Jon 1:2-3)
Jesus had plenty of His own troubles when He directed us to pray for workers for the kingdom of God. He had been rejected by an entire town of Samaritans (Lk 9:53). The religious leaders had just accused Him of being in league with Satan! (Mt 9:34) Yet instead of contending with His Father or with people, Jesus' heart was filled with compassion and pity (Mt 9:36).
Jesus directs our attention to the many confused people who need shepherding (Mt 9:36). He tells us to die to ourselves, lose our lives, and follow Him in laboring for His harvest (Lk 9:23). Will we contend with Him and try to direct His attention to our own weariness and troubles? Or will we beg Jesus to give us and many others a heart of compassion for the crowds of lost, hurting people? Will we contend with the Shepherd or tend His sheep? (Jn 21:16)
Prayer: Jesus, I repent of being unwilling to focus on Your priorities. "Your kingdom come" (Mt 6:10). I beg you to grant many the grace to accept a holy, religious vocation.
Promise: Jesus "cured every sickness and disease." —Mt 9:35
Praise: Fr. Ralph still tends to the Lord's flock ten years after "retirement."
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 22, 2007
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