Isaiah 6. 1-2a,3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; St. Luke 5. 1-11
A man had spent fruitless day fishing. He didn’t want to go home empty-handed. He decided to stop at a local fish market. “I’d like three good sized fish,” he said to the clerk. “But before you wrap them, toss them to me, one by one.” The clerk looked puzzled at his request, “Sir? That’s a strange thing to ask.” Smiling the man said, “This way I’ll be able to tell my wife truthfully that I caught them!”
One afternoon, a twelve-year-old boy was taking care of his baby sister while his parents went to town to go shopping. The boy decided to go fishing but he had to take his baby sister along. “I will never do that again.” the boy told his mother later that evening. “I didn’t catch a thing! I didn’t even get a single bite.” “Oh, next time I’m sure that the baby will be quiet and not scare the fish away,” his mother said. The boy replied, “It wasn’t that. She ate all the bait.”
Dear friends! We see in today’s readings that God chose certain individuals who have had special experiences of God and to whom God gave a special mission to teach others about him. In the first reading we heard about prophet Isaiah who lived about 725 years before Christ. He describes his call from God to be a prophet. The setting is in Jerusalem Temple. Notice he is unable to describe what God looked like. He describes God’s royal robe, the angels, the sounds and the profound sense of God’s holiness. In this experience he becomes aware of his own unworthiness. You will recognize in this passage the inspiration for two familiar hymns: The Holy, Holy which we say or sing at every Mass and the hymn, “Here I Am, Lord”. Isaiah experienced God in the Temple, most probably while in prayer. After the experience God asked, “whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah answered, “Here I am, send me!”
Paul was on his way to arrest people who believed in Jesus when Jesus appeared to him. Through this experience he came to know Jesus as Lord and he experienced that God had chosen him to preach to the nations.
Then we heard about Peter who experienced God in Jesus through a miraculous catch of fish. After Jesus gave Peter a catch of fish that astounded even him, the professional fisherman, Jesus said, “From now on you will be catching people.”
Three different messengers and three different ways of calling. None of the three did think of it earlier. The call comes almost unexpectedly. The response was one of total surrender, one of humility, one of unworthiness, one of responsibility. Isaiah says: “Here I am, send me”. Paul says of himself: “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.” Peter fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
God calls us to be his messengers, perhaps not in an extraordinary way. Perhaps we are not extraordinary people. Nevertheless God calls us. What is our response? It should be one of surrender, one of humility, one of unworthiness, one of responsibility.
God has a different call for each of us. Because each of us is unique, each of us has a mission which no one else can fulfill. God will use all of us, and particularly what is unique in us, to bring this mission to fulfillment. Our response must be like that of Isaiah: “Here I am, Lord…send me.” “I’ll do it. I’ll play my part. I’ll speak to that neighbor, that coworker, that friend, that relative. I’ll talk to my daughter about the way she is rearing her children. I’ll keep my mouth shut and refuse to gossip or criticize my co-workers or my bosses. I’ll pray every day. I’ll learn to listen patiently to those in need. I’ll do it.” Just Joshua promised, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” God wants every one of us respond to his invitation to be faithful to Him without giving any kind of excuse. Know that He will give us the strength and power to do it. All that He wants from us is our generous response.