Readings 1 IS 6:1-2A, 3-8, 2 1 COR 15:1-11, Gospel LK 5:1-11
How do we respond when God asks us to do a seemingly impossible task? We can learn a lesson from the Old Testament and Gospel readings for today. Isaiah has a vision of the Lord in which the angels cry out “Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” This is very similar to the Acclamation we sing at the end of the Preface of Mass. It is an acclamation of joy at the glory of the Lord that we are about to enter into. For Isaiah the vision was one in which he was overwhelmed at seeing the glory of the Lord, and thought for sure that he would die because of his unworthiness. His sins are purged and he is then responds to the Lord, “Here I am, send me.” Isaiah went from overwhelming awe and fear to a beloved servant of the Lord as a prophet. For Peter, James and John it was a somewhat different experience. They did not have a vision of the Lord and angels filling the temple, they were fishermen who did not have a good day. Jesus instructs them to go out into the deep and lower their nets. They questioned him, but they obeyed, and they had the great catch of fish. For Peter, James and John this was a miracle that moved Peter, like Isaiah, to confess that he was a sinner and wasn’t worthy to be in the presence of the Lord. Jesus reassures them that they need not be afraid, and then he gives them their mission, “from now on you will be catching men.”
In both of these passages we see the same dynamic of God’s relationship at work. First they experience the glory of God, whether it be a vision or an intervention in some everyday task. Second they experienced the love and care of God, who, though they were sinners, purged them of sin and assured them that they were worthy to be in his presence. Third, he sends them out on a mission.
This same dynamism is present between God and us. God continues to reveal himself to us today. For some it is in a vision, or something close to one. For others it is the realization of God’s presence and glory in an answered prayer, an unexpected encounter, or something taking place we never thought we would see. God reaches out to us with his glory and it would be good for us savor these moments. We are all sinners and need to repent. There are times when we might think that our sins should keep us from God. Bible History and Salvation History tell us otherwise, it is when we are in sin that the Lord desires us to come to him for forgiveness. At each Mass we say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” The Lord has said the word, his name is Jesus, who comes to us in Holy Communion. After our experience of God’s glory, and his care for us, he sends each of us out on a mission. Our basic vocation as Christian comes with the mission to live and proclaim the Good News of Jesus with the various gifts of the Holy Spirit we have been blessed with in Baptism and Confirmation. We might feel unworthy and/or inadequate to do a particular mission, but so did Isaiah, Peter, James and John. Fortunately they accepted the mission Jesus gave them, and they provide a great example for us of what we might do if we to allow ourselves to walk in the Lord’s way.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Image: Sea of Galilee, Father David Klecker, O.S.B.