5TH SUNDAY O.T. (C)

Around 740 BC, a farmer had a dream-like vision in which he heard the Lord God cry out, “Whom shall we send? Who will go for us?” A few moments ago, we heard the man’s response: “Here am I, Lord; send me.”

This is how Isaiah the farmer describes the beginning of his new life as Isaiah the Prophet.  Instead of planting seeds in the ground, now he would plant God’s Word in the minds and hearts of His people.

And good for him that he did.  They certainly needed to hear it.  Don’t we all?

To this very day the same God still cries out this same question.  And what does He hear in reply?  “Here am I, Lord, send me?”

Sometimes…definitely sometimes.

[Today as we celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Religious, we have among us several who did respond in just this way.  I ask them, the members of religious orders who responded to our invitation to join us today to please stand and be recognized by our community…There is no way to adequately thank them for giving their lives in service to the Church, but we are deeply grateful, and honored and delighted they could join us here today.]

When He calls someone to the Church’s priesthood or consecrated religious life; when He calls us to forgive an injury or confront someone who’s doing or saying something that is clearly wrong, sometimes the response is the same as Isaiah’s.  Sometimes, not so much.

“The priesthood? Consecrated religious life?  Whoa, no way!  Not me!  Maybe, if they change the rules…” In other words, “If they meet my conditions!”

Peter was that way, at first.  He had no idea how his life was about to change when Jesus got in his boat.  He couldn’t see himself being anyone’s disciple.

Then he saw the miracle of the fish.  Yet even then he still resisted: “Leave me Lord” he says, “I am a sinful man!” In other words, “I can’t be in your company. I’m not worthy.  I don’t have the chops.  I’m just a fisherman.”

But Jesus tells Peter, “It’s ok, I get it, you’re not perfect.  Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people.”  And so he did!

Jesus needed Peter, and the others, just like He needs you and me today.  How else can the good news of the Kingdom of God and salvation in Christ be shared?

 

As surely as God relied on the Prophets of the OT and the Apostles of the New…

Today He relies on you & me to bring His Word, His touch, His love & mercy to the world.  His Holy Spirit continues to descend upon us to carry on the work of proclaiming His Good News in word & deed, that the people of our generation and those to follow might know the truth & live it in love.

As we just heard St. Paul testifying to the people of ancient Corinth, what has been handed on to us we, in turn, are called to hand on to others.

Parents play a crucial role in this mission.  Some seem to believe they fulfill their duty by enrolling their children in a Catholic school or CCD class.  That’s certainly important.  But if parents don’t reinforce the faith their children are being taught by modeling it themselves those lessons can go right out the window!

Likewise, catechists, teachers of the faith, must not only teach lessons from a textbook but must demonstrate the values in those lessons in the way they interact with their students and others.  Clergy, religious, and other ministers, even more so.

But when the Lord calls, too often we make excuses.  We’re too busy, we’re too tired, we’re too…what?

But if we don’t answer, who will?  There are plenty of other voices, other models ready to fill the vacuum; ready to replace faith with filth, love with lewdness, decency with drugs & alcohol, beauty with brutality…

Even killing simply for the thrill of it.

Maybe like Peter we think we can’t cut it.  But just like Peter we need to recognize that we can, because we’re not left to do it on our own.  It’s the power of God’s Spirit alive in us, breathed into us, anointed upon us that empowers us to do what we think we can’t do, just like Peter & Paul, who would one day preach fearlessly and heal compassionately, just like Jesus did.

So what’s our answer?  Will we go for Him and announce in word and deed the Good News of our faith?  Will we grow in that faith that we might be fishers of men and women in the name of Christ? Will we be the vessels of God’s love and mercy in whatever way He calls us?

For the sake of a world in trouble, may we all resist the temptation to return the Lord’s call with “not me.”  By this and every Eucharist, may we have the faith & the courage to say, “Here I am, Lord.  Send me!”

God bless you!