“Here I Am. Send Me!”

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

Our human existence is a gift of God to us. God constantly comes into our lives and invites us to partake in his life. Through faith in Christ, human beings are oriented toward God. God reveals himself to us continuously through persons, words, and situations. He comes to us in various ways and we must recognize him. He invites each person individually with a mission. Holy Scripture tells us about the call of Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and others who had to fulfill the mission of God. God calls each one to fulfill a purpose. Thus the entire Church is said to be in a state of vocation and of mission. Therefore, each members the Church, has their own vocation and mission. Every one of us is called to play our individual role in building up the life of the Church.

Some 2,000 years ago, when Jesus first founded his Church, He called some of the people at that time to be apostles, he called others to be prophets, he called others to be evangelists, others were called to be pastors and teachers, but despite their different ministries what united all of them was that they were all entrusted with the same mission and the same type of service in building up the Body of Christ.

Today’s readings also teach us that God has His own plan for selecting people to be His disciples, ministers and prophets. The readings challenge us to examine our own personal change of life and commitment to our discipleship. The background of today’s first reading the kings of Israel and Judah focused on political schemes to ensure their nations’ safety, instead of relying faithfully on the Lord God to sustain them. This was the situation in which Isaiah received God’s mission to speak God’s word to the kings and people of Judah and Israel.

Yahweh permitted Isaiah to experience His magnificence in a vision in the Temple of Jerusalem. Experiencing the glory of God, Isaiah at once confessed his unworthiness, calling out, “Woe is me, For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” In the presence of God’s holiness, Isaiah became painfully aware of his own sinful human nature. However, when cleansed by God, he was ready for His ministry: “Here I am. Send me!” God gave him the courage to speak His word, interpret His will, and call His people and their leaders to repent and return to God’s ways.

In today’s second readings Corinthian Christians questioned Paul’s authority and disputed the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Paul silenced them by presenting the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Then he recounted the story of how he had been chosen to be an apostle to the Gentiles by the Risen Lord who appeared to him on his trip to Damascus. But Paul confessed his unworthiness to be an apostle because of his former persecution of Christians and gave the full credit to God for his call to the ministry: “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is speaking to a crowd when he gets into a boat near the shore, sits down, and continues teaching. When he finishes, he tells Simon to lower his nets again for a catch. Simon, frustrated from a day of catching nothing but, trusting Jesus, agrees to once again lower his nets. He pulls out an extremely bountiful catch. At this, Simon Peter sees Jesus for what he is and says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But Jesus does not depart from him. He replies, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men,” and Simon Peter, James, and John leave their lives behind to follow Jesus.  All of them were weak. All of them made mistakes. But what was most important, all of them had sincere hearts and overcame their weaknesses by placing their complete trust in the Lord.

At times we feel like Isaiah, Paul or Peter. We feel so unworthy of our call that we can hardly do anything for the sake of the Gospel. However, we should realize that it is God who cleanses us of our sins and makes us worthy to be his messengers. Therefore, we are not to be afraid. Rather, we should be docile to the spirit of Jesus Christ. He makes us available, worthy, and capable for his mission. If we are ready to say like Isaiah: “Here I am, Lord send me.” Christ is also ready to make us “fishers of men.”

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