5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
THE LORD MAKES US HIS WORTHY MESSENGERS
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday the church reminded us of our privileged call to be God’s prophets and messengers. On this fifth Sunday of ordinary time, she reminds us that though we are utterly unworthy to be God’s messengers, Christ cleanses us from our sins and gives us the strength to say: “Here I am, Lord Send me.” He is the one that makes us worthy missionaries. Hence today’s message is a continuation of last week’s.
A close look at all our readings today reveals one common phenomenon. This is the feeling and expression of unworthiness by all the personalities (Isaiah, Paul and Peter). Truly speaking and given fact that they are humans beings, they were not worthy for God’s mission. This is why the scripture tells us that: There is none as holy as the Lord… (I Sam. 2, 2), and that: “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Ish. 64, 6). Of course, any person who grasps this truth is already on the path of salvation. These feelings and expressions of unworthiness were marks of humility on Isaiah who said: “I am a man of unclean lips,” on Paul who admitted: “I am the least of the apostles,” and on Peter who Pleaded: Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”
They acknowledged their unworthiness, weaknesses and vulnerabilities before God. They acknowledged the fact that they were not worthy to bear the sacred message of God. Somehow, their feelings and humility were indirect means of drawing God’s attention to the fact that they needed his grace, and blessing in order to succeed. Of course, God knew all these before choosing them. It did not matter to Him whether they were weak or strong. God is simply the one who sanctifies and makes us worthy for his work.
In today’s gospel, one question that needs serious attention is: How could Peter a professional and experienced fisherman who could not catch any fish throughout the night be able to catch men for God? I mean “Homo sapiens” who are the most difficult of all the species created by God? Of course, Christ knew he was not worthy, yet He went for him. He chose him in spite of his unworthiness and made him worthy for the mission. From the lives and excuses of these the figures today, we must learn that it is the grace of God that makes us worthy for His mission and not only our “special qualities or experiences.” They matter but, are limited.
There is another important truth and lesson that emerges both from our readings today and the first reading of last week. This is the fact that, there will always be millions of reasons to try to dodge the call of God. Last week, while Jeremiah claimed that he was still too young (Jer 1, 6), today Isaiah claims to be “a man of unclean leaps.” So, there will always be millions of reasons, not to help the poor, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead.
There will be a million reasons not to attend masses, not to pray the rosary, not to go for confession when we need it, not to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. There will always be reasons not to be able to take care of my wife, my husband, my children and my neighbors. Too many reasons my dear friend! However, God will not relent until we do his will, because he has an adequate response for every reason that we give.
- We need to pray that our encounters with the holiness of God may lead us to recognize our sinfulness. God, who calls us and commissions us for His service, wants us to realize His presence everywhere and in everyone, to repent of our sins, and to remain in readiness to speak and act for Him in our life circumstances as He shall direct us through His grace and His Holy Spirit.
- We need to teach and practice expressions of reverence for the Lord. We need to express our reverence for God through appropriate bodily gestures. For example, when we come into Church, we need to show reverence for Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle by making a deep bow or by genuflecting and blessing ourselves with sign of the cross. Then we need to honor Him by listening to the word of God and by actively participating in the liturgy’s prayers and singing. This same sense of reverence can be expressed by keeping the Bible, God’s living word to us, in a prominent place in our homes and by kissing it each time we read from it. True reverence for God naturally leads us to the reverent, respectful love of our neighbors, as God dwells in them.
- Each of us has a unique mission in the Church. This is why God has a different call for each of us. Each of us is unique, so each of us has a mission which no one else can fulfill. Let us accomplish this mission by radiating the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus and by participating in the various ministries of our parish.
Finally, At times we feel like Isaiah, Paul or Peter in today’s readings. We feel so unworthy of our call that we can hardly do anything for the sake of the Gospel. Rightly, we should feel so perhaps because of our inadequacies and fear. However, we should realize that it is God who cleanses us of our sins and makes us worthy to be his messengers. Therefore, we are not to be afraid. Rather, we should be docile to the spirit of Jesus Christ. He makes only those who are available worthy and capable for his mission. If we are ready to say like Isaiah: Here I am, Lord send me.” Christ is also ready to make us “fishers of men.”
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN