Isaiah 6: 1-2a, 3-8; I Corinthians 15: 1-11; Luke 5: 1-11
When I got sick back at Christmas, the one thing I quickly learned of myself was how hard it is to depend on others. We live in a culture that thrives on being independent and self-sufficient, but I found myself in need of help with meals and getting to the store. Probably anyone that has been sick understands that or as those who can no longer drive; there is a great sense of loss when one loses their independence and ability to be self-sufficient. It often takes a lot for us to get to the point of depending on someone other than ourselves or something outside ourselves, but there is truth to having at times to reach rock bottom, bottom out, before we can reach that point.
It’s where these men being called in the readings, though, find themselves. They have reached a point of vulnerability in their lives, and at that moment God is ready to hook them. We find Isaiah today in the temple praying. It follows the death of King Uzziah, so a vulnerable time for the entire nation. For the five previous chapters there is struggle with the call that Isaiah felt he was being given. And now today, in the temple receives a vision of God, which at the time, meant death. In some ways, it was the death of Isaiah. It was the moment when he can finally let go of the struggle, let go of himself and begin to depend on the voice of God calling. He can see and hear in a new way. God hooks him in and Isaiah’s only response is, “Here I am, send me.”
Paul, of course was by no means saintly in his life and today speaks of his unworthiness as an apostle, a self-proclaimed one at that! He says, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” He was a murderer for goodness sakes, but was knocked down and out, and at that moment, it is when God hooked him. He was literally blinded and given the grace to see and hear in a new way. This God in Christ that he had condemned had hooked him in and led him in a new direction becoming one of the great voices of the Church in all of history. His response, although not always humble, is the same as Isaiah, “Here I am, send me.” When God hooks them and us, there’s no turning back.
Lastly we hear a story that we are all familiar with, the call of Simon Peter. When we encounter him this year in Luke’s Gospel, however, there is much more compassion for the trials that he faces and inflicts on himself. Peter’s livelihood depends on one thing, fishing. As we hear in the Gospel today, that’s not going so well. He too is going to find himself hitting rock bottom and feeling a little frustrated. When there’s no fish, there’s no livelihood. Yet, in that moment of need he musters up the faith to trust and depend on Jesus’ command to go out into the deep. When he does, a miracle happens that was beyond his control. He had given up everything and trusted in God.
As we draw this Ordinary Time to a close and prepare for Lent on Wednesday, we are invited into the vulnerable places in our lives, to give up our independence and self-sufficiency and put our trust in something outside ourselves. Like Peter, when we put that in God, we begin to experience the miracle of life and the call from God to each of us. Will we encounter those places of vulnerability in our lives, the darkness and shadow side of ourselves. It’s where God wants to meet us! He tells us to fear not today! When we go and we hear that voice speak to us, we pray that our response will be like those that have gone before us, simply, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”