The Lord Sanctifies And Makes Us Worthy Messangers
Readings: 1st: Is 6:1-8; Ps: 137; 2nd: I Cor 15:1-11; Gos: Lk 5:1-11
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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). Given that they were human beings, they were not worthy of 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 (Is. 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 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 that they needed his grace and blessing to succeed. Of course, However, it did not matter to God whether they were weak or strong. He is simply the one who sanctifies and makes us worthy of 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? “Men” 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. Christ chose him despite his unworthiness and made him worthy for the mission. From the lives and excuses of these 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 crucial truth and lesson that emerges from our readings today. This is the fact that there will always be millions of reasons to try to avoid the call of God. Last week, while Jeremiah claimed that he was still too young (Jer 1, 6), and today Isaiah declares he is “A man of unclean leaps.” So, there will always be millions of reasons not to help the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and even 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 take care of my wife, husband, children, and neighbors. Too many excuses, my dear friend! However, God will not relent until we do his will.
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 God is the one who cleanses us of our sins and makes us worthy to be his messengers.
Therefore, we are not to be afraid. Instead, we should be docile to the spirit of Jesus Christ. He makes only those who are available worthy and capable for his mission. So, like Isaiah, let us confidently say: Here I am, Lord send me, “and Christ will make us “fishers of men.”
Peace be with you.