This weekend we have three examples of people who did not see themselves as being worthy; being called, being forgiven and responding to the call.
Isaiah in the first reading has a vision, he sees God on his throne surrounded by angels. He hears the call but acknowledges his faults stating he has unclean lips. The angel of the Lord purifies his lips with a hot coal; Isaiah accepts God’s forgiveness and replies to the call saying, “Here I am, send me.”
St Paul in the second reading reminds his readers that Jesus died to free us from our sins and recalls who Christ appeared to following His Resurrection stating he was the last and least worthy of the apostles as he had persecuted the Church. He goes on to say that it was only through the grace he received from Christ that he had been permitted to go on and bear fruit as an apostle. We the Christians with non-Jewish heritage are witnesses to how fruitful his work has been.
Finally in our Gospel we have Simon Peter, who answered his call from Jesus with the words “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man.” Jesus made no reference to Peter’s sins, but said “Do not be afraid, from now on it is men you will catch.” In this story which took place beside a lake, we see Jesus take his Mission out of the synagogues and into the fields, the lakes and the hills. Jesus would speak to people wherever they gathered, giving us an example to follow.
Jesus saw past the sins of Peter and Paul. God saw past the failings of Isaiah. God sees past our sins. He sees who we really are. There is a Christian song which I am very fond of by Natalie Grant called ‘The Real Me’. It describes how God can see deep inside us, and see beyond the things we have done; our unworthiness; the same unworthiness mentioned by Isaiah, Paul and Simon Peter. To quote from the song “But you see the real me, hiding in my skin, broken from within, unveil me completely, I’m loosening my grasp, there’s no need to mask my frailty, ‘cause you see the real me.”1
The readings this week demonstrate we do not have to be perfect to follow Jesus; we just need to respond to the call; acknowledge that Jesus can already see the real me and He still wants us, He still loves us. How amazing is that?
This was something which I struggled with for a long time. God still wants me, even though He knows how many times I have gotten things so wrong in my life.
As Catholics we have the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation to help reconcile our relationship with God and our neighbour. I was heartened recently when I heard from a friend that he had returned to the Church and that when he approached the priest, he was so helpful and gave him time to talk over whatever it was he wanted to discuss. My friend told me this in a pub, with others listening; at least three of the others listening are lapsed Catholics. I found it uplifting that my friend had returned, that he was able to report a positive experience and by the courage of his witness. I pray for my other friends that they will also have the courage to come home and that the welcome they receive will be as positive.
As our scripture readings today demonstrate, God does not call perfect people because only God is perfect. God calls people who have flaws. We can pray for the grace to accept or change them and in doing so, we can help lead other people to God. But first, we have to respond, we have to accept the invitation to get to know Jesus better. God does not dictate to us; He always gives us a choice. Our call may not be as dramatic as the calls we have heard about in the scriptures today. His call is gentle, but persistent. God hopes our reply will be like Isaiah’s reply “Here I am, send me.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)2
CCC 520, 618, 923, 1618, 1642, 2053: all are called to follow Christ
CCC 2144, 2732: awe in God’s presence versus presumption
CCC 631-644: the Apostles as witnesses of the Resurrection
Please keep in your prayers
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- The listening stage of the 16th Synod of Bishops which is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” that all Catholics will take part.
- For Kamsi who is being baptised this weekend in St Bede’s.
- Those preparing for and attending the Big Picture sessions on Mondays.
- Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
- Victims of human trafficking.
- As we approach the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we remember all those who are sick and all those preparing for a pilgrimage to Lourdes.