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Laborers in the Vineyard: Inviting the Ecclesial Movements to Catholic Online

By Deacon Keith Fournier
July 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We want to promote all of the ecclesial movements on Catholic Online. We believe they are a work of the Holy Spirit for our time. They are a sign that the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out upon the Church; that Pentecost, and the grace which it brings to the whole Church, is still happening. We issue a call to leaders and representatives of the ecclesial movements to write and tell us of your work, share your way of life and spread the good news of what the Lord is doing in and though your movement. You may write to Deacon Keith Fournier at deaconfournier@catholic.org.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Our Gospel at Mass is taken from St. Matthew (Mt 9: 32-38) and contains these words: "Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."

That same mission of Jesus continues in our own day. It is lived out in His Body, the Church, of which we are members. Every single person reading this article is called to make it real in their own lives. In every state in life and vocation, every job or vocation, no matter where we serve in the world which God still loves, we are laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord. We are the laborers the Lord Jesus asks us to pray for in this Gospel passage.

The word pity in the translation we read at Mass in the United States could also be rendered compassion. In the original language it means to enter into the suffering of another out of love; to so identify with them that you give yourself for their healing, deliverance and liberation. That is the motivation of Jesus Christ. That can become our motivation in our own participation in His mission. The more we enter into a relationship with Him, by responding to grace, He lives His Life and continues His mission through us. 

On May 21, 2013, Pope Francis addressed a massive crowd which included the leaders of what the Church now collectively refers to as the ecclesial movements. It was Pentecost Sunday and he told them: "The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission."

"The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone."

"As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever" (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the "Comforter", who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?"

Pope Francis sees these movements collectively as one of the missionary resources of the Catholic Church in her work of reaching out to this neo-pagan age with the liberating message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this moment in history. He views this time in which we live as a new missionary age. He is a good pastor, who wants to ensure that the members of these ecclesial movements do not fall prey to the temptation faced by enthusiastic movements, to turn inward and become, to use one of his favorite words of warning to the whole Church, self-referential.

Over the last few pontificates, the term ecclesial movements has become the term used to refer to the many movements within the Catholic Church which demonstrate that the Spirit of Pentecost is alive and well. Though each movement may have a unique charism and mission, they all invite Christians into a personal relationship, an encounter, with the Lord Jesus Christ. They all proclaim that Jesus Christ is no longer dead but has been raised from the dead and is still alive in our midst in the Church which He founded.

These ecclesial movements are 'evangelical' in the fullest sense of the word. They all call men and women into an encounter with Jesus Christ which awakens the grace of Baptism within them and changes them. They invite the men and women of this age to experience the Pentecost of the Holy Spirit which the Lord promised, right here and now. Then, all who experience such an encounter with the the Risen Christ are invited to find their home in the Heart of His Church. From that base of operation they are enlisted into a mission in the world, to take their place in the ongoing redemptive mission of the Lord.

This past year, the conference for ecclesial movements exceeded over 120,000 representatives.There were representatives from over 150 ecclesial movements in attendance, reflecting their growing diversity and numbers. The Successor of Peter hopes to unite them - and the entire Church - in the one mission of the Church in this urgent hour. He is issuing a call for laborers in the vineyard. Are we hearing the call? Are we responding?

We want to promote all of the ecclesial movements on Catholic Online. We believe they are a work of the Holy Spirit for our time. They are a sign that the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out upon the Church; that Pentecost, and the grace which it brings to the whole Church, is still happening. We issue a call to leaders and representatives of the ecclesial movements to write and tell us of your work, share your way of life and spread the good news of what the Lord is doing in and though your movement.

You may write to Deacon Keith Fournier at deaconfournier@catholic.org.

On the first Pentecost the early followers of Jesus gathered as their Lord commanded them, expecting the fulfillment of the promise he had made. We refer to Pentecost as the birthday of the missionary church for good reason. Their encounter with the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room changed them. They were filled with the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead and animated by that Spirit for mission.

The Holy Spirit capacitated those early Christians so that they sould carry forward in time the ongoing mission of Jesus Christ. He continues to capaciatate all of those who bear His name to do the same in this age. he calls us to continue that same mission until he returns to complete the work of redemption. The Holy Spirit capacitates you and me in the same way and for the same task.We are all laborers in the Vineyard. 

We welcome the members and leaders of all of the ecclesial movements which love the Lord and his Church and are responding to the call to be laborers in the Vineyard in this hour.  Consider Catholic Online as a friendly mission stop, a place where you can spread your message and be strengthened and encouraged. Consider Catholic Online a place where you can find food and resources for your work in the Vineyard of the Lord and share your story.

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