Sunday Reflection by Fr. Stephen Salocks, Rector
Christian life and spirituality have their origin and foundation in a relationship with God who calls us and gives us the means of positively responding to his call. God calls us into relationship, into intimacy, and then sends us forth as disciples and as messengers of life to others who need to be in relationship with God. God knows that we can feel a sense of hesitancy and unworthiness in the face of His call. Indeed, the scriptures proclaimed on the Fifth Sunday of the Year deal with the way those called to be God’s messengers initially responded with a sense of reluctance and unworthiness. But those same scriptures help us to understand that, as God calls us, he also leads us and helps us to respond and serve in His name. Indeed, the opening prayer today asks the Lord to keep us safe with unfailing care and defend us by His protection as we rely on the hope of heavenly grace [Collect for Mass].
God meets us and calls us at any time and in any situation: in prayer and worship like Isaiah, in the middle of our work and daily life like Peter and his fellow fishermen, and even when we are already about the business of defending our faith like Paul. We should not be surprised that God can act this way, and we want to be ready to meet Him and to hear His call when He reaches out to us.
Reluctance and a sense of unworthiness is understandable but does not make a positive response to God’s call impossible. Brought into the presence of God’s glory, goodness, and power, we are going to be aware of our sins, our failures, and our limitations. Isaiah knew he was “a man of unclean lips.” Simon Peter confessed to the Lord that he was “a sinful man.” Paul told the Corinthians that he was “the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because [he] persecuted the church of God.” But the God who calls is also the God who heals, forgives, reconciles, and commissions.
God’s call is both a call to conversion and a call to mission. Once the angel declares his wickedness removed and sin purged, Isaiah is ready to be sent as God’s messenger. Jesus tells Peter not to be afraid and tells him that he is sending him out to catch others to follow the Lord. Pointing to the power of God’s grace as it comes to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul says that “[God’s] grace to me has not been ineffective.”
For most of us, being called by God does not happen in such dramatic ways. But even though our call-experiences may be more mundane, we can often be just as reluctant as the more famous messengers of God we hear about in today’s reading. The prayers and scriptures of this day encourage us: Do not be afraid! God’s grace and unfailing care and protection will be with us! Having been called and chosen by God, we pray that he will continue to help us order our lives in ways that strengthen our focus on Jesus Christ and make Christ more and more the center of our lives.
The Miraculous Draft of Fishes
Raphael c.1515 - c.1516
Forming Disciples. Proclaiming Jesus Christ.
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