Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; 1Corinthians 1: 1-3; John 1: 29-34
“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” What a great little prayer from the psalmist to take with us this week. It really does capture the essence of these readings this weekend as we transition into Ordinary Time. Before we hear the call of the disciples next week and the healing ministries of Jesus that follow, we carry through on the theme of last weekend of the identity of Jesus and first accepting who we are before we can do the work that God calls us to in the world. Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
We know that’s not an easy task. All of us who have accepted a call or vocation in life, regardless of the one we choose, know it is often something we have to grow into. We may make a public commitment, but it takes time before we can be what it is God is calling us to in life. It takes time before we can accept the fact that it’s not about me or you, but rather about God working in and through me and you. It comes with many ups and downs before we can accept that identity of ourselves, and we need not look any further than the iconic figures we hear of in today’s readings.
Isaiah, as well as most of the other prophets, take plenty of time wrestling with God before they accept their identity and call. Isaiah follows today by telling God how he has failed at being a prophet. He questions his worthiness and whether he can ever really live up to what God is asking of him. God’s reply, though, reminds Isaiah who he really is. God tells him that when he accepts that it’s not about him but rather God working in and through him, he will accomplish what seems to be impossible tasks! He will take on the restoration of Israel, be a light to the nations, and bring about conversion to the world. Of course, this will be fulfilled in God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ. It’s not about Isaiah and it’s not about me, rather God working in and through.
Paul, despite all his critics, understood this better than anyone. We will hear from his letter to the Corinthians these weeks and we hear today how he has been chosen as an apostle. Of course we know he wasn’t one of the original Twelve, but through God acting in and through him, he is led to a conversion and call in life that anoints him apostle to the Gentiles. He will be sent out by God to preach the good news and so often does it through his writings to these many different communities, including to Corinth who often needed that message that it wasn’t about them. They often have an inflated ego about themselves and so the message from Paul, right from the beginning of the Letter, is just that; let me remind you who you really are. Your identity is in Christ and when your identity is in Christ it isn’t about you but rather of a God who works in and through you. Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
We hear again from John the Baptist this weekend, but much more confident than what we heard in last week’s gospel from Matthew. He once again gives witness to the identity of Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Not sins, those things we often do, but rather the one who takes away sin…the big one, when we succumb to the lie that it is about us and that we are somehow bigger than God. When that Spirit comes upon Jesus and upon us, we take on a new identity, no longer I but You. That message will soon follow from John the Baptist, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Like John, we often get in our own way of taking on that new identity in Christ. We put ourselves ahead and we get burnt out by life, doubt, and dwell on our own unworthiness. When we accept that identity and grow into it, our lives are changed forever, as they were for Isaiah and Paul.
As we enter into these weeks of Ordinary Time and now into this Eucharist, we make the psalmists prayer our own, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Grant us the grace, Lord, to grow into who we really are and to see that it isn’t about me or anyone else, but rather about God working in and through us. As we grow into it, we begin to do great things to bring about the conversion of the world. Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.