C Cycle – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 19
You may not know this, but you have a lot in common with the central figures in today’s readings – Isaiah, Paul the apostle and Peter. Each of them was living their life, content with what they were doing, comfortable with their lives and not expecting any of it to change. Each of us get to a comfortable place in life and in our practice of our faith and we feel no need to change. In fact, we resist change and do everything we can to remain in that comfortable state.
However, God has a different plan for our lives, and it involves constant change, constant growth and constant challenges. How many times must we hear Paul tell us we are part of a body and each part has a purpose before we are challenged to find our place in the body? How many times must we hear the parable of the talents before we decide to discover our talent to be used for the common good of our faith community? Yet, even if we have discovered our talents and are using them in service to the community, we are being called to seek God’s will because “of him who has much, much more will be required.”
If you have not noticed God expects us to respond to his call even when that call does not make sense to us and if we do respond there will be another call that challenges us further. Peter get out of the boat and walk to me on the water or go feed the thousands yourselves are just two examples of how we will always be called to not get comfortable. But our first response is to look at our deficiencies, what we lack or how we have failed in the past to do his will.
Think back to the call of Isaiah, Paul and Peter and you will discover the human response to God. They were not looking for any more than what they were doing in their life and how they lived out their faith. Yet, God breaks through and they are aware of their sinfulness. Isaiah, says he is a man of unclean lips, Peter wants the person of Jesus to leave him alone for he is a sinful man. Paul constantly referred to himself as the greatest of sinners because of his persecution of those who believed in Jesus. But let us be reminded our first family, Adam and Eve, hid from God and covered their sin with a fig leaf.
Today we continue to hide from God but like Adam and Eve we continue to walk in the garden while avoiding the call of God. We clothe ourselves with works of piety instead of fig leaves and we walk into church and ignore his voice pleading with us to stop hiding from him. We have a lot in common with these three as we look at what is lacking in us as a reason not to respond to his call. Sins of our past and present have tarnished our image of ourselves and it is one we feel we must improve before we respond to God.
How do these three deal with their sinfulness before responding? The answer is they don’t do anything to change their sinfulness, God does something to change them. Isaiah has an angel come to him and cleanse him by purging his sin and removing his guilt (Is. 67). Paul is prayed with by Ananias (Acts 9:17) and the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into his heart. Peter is told not to be afraid and he follows Jesus and it is not until the final appearance of Jesus that Paul’s guilt over his sin is removed as a barrier to his fulfilling his role in proclaiming Jesus as Lord. What about us are we trying to make up for our sinful acts instead of allowing God’s plan to remove our sin and remember our guilt no more to take root in our hearts?
The truth is we are just like Isaiah, Paul and Peter we are involved in dally living without ever giving a thought to God or how we can be doing his will instead of our will. We are ignoring the call of God to do more than what we are doing, and we fail to see how God has gifted us to do something to make our faith communities more vibrant. Consider the scene with Peter and Jesus it is a story about us how we approach our walk with Jesus. They had fished all night and caught nothing.
How many times do we toil in prayer, using every means at our disposal, novenas, adoration, chaplets, various prayer aids and we still do not see results. It is not that those methods of prayer are not vehicles to be in the presence of God. It has more to do with our expectations, for when our prayers become so routine, we are not bringing ourselves into the presence of God. We need to have Jesus come along and teach us to pray by guiding us to do something different even though it seems to be the same thing we have been doing. It was not the casting of the nets to the other side that made a difference; it was listening to Jesus and responding to his guidance that made the difference.
This is the message we need to take to heart today, Listen to Him and stop looking at what we have or do not have. Listen to him and break out of the fixation we have about what is our mission. Each of us has been called to holiness but we will not attain holiness on our own but by the work of the Holy Spirit changing us dramatically. Our eyes will be opened to the wonders of God around us daily and our ears will hear his voice directing us to fulfill our role in becoming prophets, disciples and we will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.