The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38). I can still hear the loud voice in which the Holy Father proclaimed this message to the people assembled in the Theresienwiese, above all to the great number of young people who were there. He interpreted this call to the harvest with such depth of insight that God made it take root in the hearts of those who heard him, where it will grow and ripen under the sun of God’s truth and his love. The harvest is plentiful- it is already plentiful even today.
It can be very dismaying in conversing with young people to see this quest for a better life, for an alternative, for genuine meaning, to realize the extent of the harvest that is ripe and waiting for laborers, and then to see the number of predatory birds that are seeking to reap it for themselves. The harvest is plentiful. Pray to the Lord of the harvest. Such a prayer will never go unanswered. If the statistical trend of the last years had continued as was predicted, then in 1981 only 130 theological students would have entered the seminary in all Germany. But there were 542.
It is unwise to rely too much on numbers; but this fact shows, at least, that no hypothesis is immutable, that there is always the possibility of something new, of some new awakening on which the statisticians had not calculated because freedom is always incalculable. The…awakening has begun again. That means that we must pray, that we should pray and should have confidence.
Let us do this with all our hearts! Let us turn toward the Lord in prayer! And let us turn to one another! Let us not pray in words alone, but with all that we are! Let us invite people, young people, to accept the challenge of these words and to understake this great, difficult, yet beautiful ministry. We know that age is no obstacle, because many of us have found our way through an older priest in whom we recognized the marks of a fulfilled life, of trustworthiness, and of inherent goodness.
From: Zeitfragen und christlicher Glaube, pp. 89-90