Is. 6:1-2a, 3-8; Ps. 138; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Lk. 5:1-11
(Audio recorded live, 6 February 2022)
Last week, we heard the call of Jeremiah, who was a prophet to the nations. This week, we hear the call of the prophet Isaiah. Truly, God has a plan for each and every one of us. What was God’s plan for Isaiah? From today’s reading, to be sent as a messenger to the people. But, not before he is purified to speak the words of the Most High. St. Paul encourages the Corinthians to hold fast to the word he preached to them. The words he speaks were given to him in part by revelation and what had been handed on through the Apostles. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent,” and St. Paul, like Isaiah, was sent to speak the word of God to the people. We see the beginning of this mission in the Gospel as Jesus tells Simon, James, and John that they will no longer be catching fish, but men. They, like the prophets before them, were sent to carry the word to all the ends of the earth, and so are we.
While we may not have had heavenly visions like Isaiah, or heard the voice of God like Jeremiah, or even witnessed a miraculous catch of fish, by our baptism, we too, are called to participate in the mission of Jesus. We are also sent, like Isaiah, St. Paul and the Apostles, to carry out the mission of proclaiming the word. We do this not only by word, but by deed, by our actions, practicing a life of virtue, and tending to the needs of others.
If we are to participate in this mission, we like Isaiah and Simon, must also practice humility. Isaiah, after witnessing the heavenly vision cries out, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” He recognizes his lack of perfection, his own brokenness, and voices it to the Lord. It is only after he says this that the angel then touches his lips, purifying them for his mission of speaking God’s word. Simon Peter expresses a similar humility. After the miracle of the great catch, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” After the great catch, Peter recognized in Jesus something far greater than the son of a carpenter, and like Isaiah, recognizes his own lack of perfection.
We do well to to exercise humility daily. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Both Isaiah and Simon Peter saw a glimpse of heaven, and they cried out to the Lord expressing their humility. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging our shortcomings. And whenever we are blessed to come face-to-face with the awesome splendor of God, there is no preventing it. God is perfect, and we are not. Nevertheless, God has a plan for each of us, and that plan, should we carry it out, always leads us closer to perfection.
And so, as we celebrate the call of so many fine prophets and apostles today, let us be mindful of our own call, our own baptism, our own life of grace. God has blessed us abundantly. So, if we were met with the vision of God in heaven and heard a voice saying, “Whom shall I send? Whom will go for us?” May our response be one with the prophets. May our response be, “Here I am. Send me!”