10 February 2019 at St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl
Isaiah 6, 1-2, 3-8 + Psalm 138 + 1 Corinthians 15, 1-11 + Luke 5, 1-11
All three of the people put before us today are reluctant: Isaiah, Paul, and Peter. Yet, they are all chosen by God. Each of them acknowledges their unworthiness and inadequacy, and from a spiritual point of view, this is a good starting point. God knew of their sinfulness, and God chose them in spite of it. Jesus knew Peter was no good as a fisherman. They caught nothing all night long, but Jesus chose him anyway showing him what he could accomplish when he did what Jesus asked of him. Isaiah, Paul and Peter eventually went on to do great things because they accepted God’s call, and did what Jesus asked. None of them excused themselves or used their sinfulness and weakness as a cop-out.
In this world today, most people who run for public office put themselves forward. They are not slow to advertise their qualifications, and it’s my opinion that such people are more likely to do more harm than good, because they rely upon their own resources usually out for their own glory and advancement. Pride and self-sufficiency are like sand, and a house built on them is sure to fall. On the other hand, when we meet someone who is fearful and hesitant in allowing their name to be put forward, we often find that person believable and more human. This reluctance is the essence of the matter. This is kind of people that God looks for.
We can all sit here today and listen to the story of these three and go home thinking it was all about them as though this is not about us, but we do not proclaim this Word of God to tell stories about the past. To do so is foolishness and faithless. We tell it to reveal the plan of God for today. Anyone called to faith, anyone who believes in the Lord, Jesus Christ is called to do something, called to live and serve in such a way that others are drawn to Christ, invited into faith, and inspired to seek the Kingdom of God in service and sacrifice. Excuses won’t do. Jesus will have nothing to do with Peter’s claims that because he is a sinner he can’t do what is asked of him. God ignores Isaiah’s claims that he is a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips. As St. Paul says, it is precisely because he is a sinner that he is called. There is no excuse for doing nothing.
There is a great contrast between the call of Isaiah and Peter. With Isaiah’s call, there is a sense that something extraordinary is taking place. The Lord is seated on a high and lofty throne with the train of his garment filling the Temple. There is great shaking and house was filled with smoke, but in the time of Peter, our time, it is very different. The Incarnation has taken place, and now God is not on a lofty throne with flowing robes, but rather speaking through the Son of Man to people at work, doing what they do every day, people like you and me.
We must not miss the fact that Jesus began his mission and chose as his followers these fishermen, working people. He did not call priests from the Temple, or the rich and famous. He did not build this church on people who were somehow especially gifted, powerful, or special in any way. He chose real people, simple workers who were not even especially great at what they were doing. After all, they had fished all night and caught nothing. He still chooses sinners. He chooses you and me. There is no time to look around and see if he is looking for someone else. He is not. We all need someone who accepts us for what we are, but believes we can do more and challenges us to realize it. This is exactly what Jesus Christ does for us: accepts just as we are right now, and he asks more. In the end, the quality of our lives is not measured by what is given to us as much as it is measured by what is asked of us.