Sunday Gospel reflection with Fr. Bill Grimm – Fifth Sunday of the Year (C)

Sunday Gospel reflection with Fr. Bill Grimm – Fifth Sunday of the Year (C)


Feeling unworthy of God’s call is nothing
new. Isaiah had the same problem: “Woe is me,
I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among
a people of unclean lips.” Peter says, “Leave me, Lord. I am a sinful man.” God, however, seems to be less demanding of
us than we are ourselves. God will accept or, rather, work with and
through our weaknesses. In Isaiah’s case his unclean lips were burned
clean by a seraph-borne ember. Peter got words: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching people.” Their reactions are important. The first words that pass Isaiah’s newly-purified
lips are, “Here I am; send me.” Peter does not say anything; he acts. He and his partners “brought their boats
to land, left everything, and became his followers.” “Vocation” comes from a word meaning,
“call.” A vocation, though, is not simply a call,
as if God were yodeling in the heavens. It is a call to do something. Usually, we use the words “calling” or
“vocation” about some work that involves one’s whole being in service. What are Isaiah and Peter called to do? Isaiah hears the voice of God saying, “Whom
shall I send? Who will go for us?” Peter is told that he will become a fisher
of people. Apparently, the call is not so much to be
something as to do something. A vocation is not to some special state of
goodness. Even less is it a call to a special status. It is a call to a special task. The error of Isaiah and Peter was that they
thought they had to be a special kind of person to respond to God’s call. They thought that the sort of persons they
were, rather than the task to which they were called, should determine God’s work in the
world. God’s answer is simply, “Yes, I know you’re
not perfect. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in having word of my love
shared with the world. In a world where everyone is my specially
loved child and everyone is imperfect, I am calling you to do something special for me. I don’t need someone who can earn my love
by being perfect. I just need you.” Catholics tend to identify the word “vocation”
with a particular kind of response to God’s call: priesthood or Religious life. However, they are not really vocations. They are ways of living the vocation each
Christian has. Each of us Christians is called like Isaiah,
like Peter, to do something for God. Just like Isaiah and Peter, we are called
to proclaim God’s message to the world, to be fishers of people, drawing them into
deeper communion with God. Like Isaiah and Peter, we have responded. In our Baptism, we have said, “Here I am;
send me.” In our Baptism, we have left our old life
behind to follow Jesus. Baptism is an answer to a call, even though
we might not fully realize it at the time. So, to be Christian is to have a vocation. We are not perfect. Like Peter, I am sinful. Like Isaiah, I live among an unclean people. That is not important. What is important is that God has called me. I am unworthy. I know that. God knows that. The people to whom God wants me to go either
know that already or will know it soon enough. It’s not a matter of worthiness. It’s a matter of the call. We should not get the two mixed up. My sinfulness is, in a sense, irrelevant. What counts is the task to which I have been
called as an individual and to which we have been called as a Church. The world is starving to hear of God’s love,
to see God’s love. The world is swimming around in confusion,
waiting to be brought into God’s net. That is what counts. That is the vocation you and I have as Christians. God is willing to work with sinners like Isaiah,
Peter, you and me. Let’s give thanks for that and get to work.

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