Who’s calling? God or the jumbled mess of my interior aspirations?
A life of faith involves discerning and then aligning to the likeness and image of Christ. For me, that process has been nothing short of an adventure involving mirages, missteps and a few miracles. Is that you God or am I just having a particular day!
All our readings for this Sunday touch on the topic of call and listening for God’s guidance. “All will praise you, when they have heard the words of your mouth.… The Lord will make good his purpose for me.” Psalm 138 What do these readings tell us about the spiritual call and our response?
- The call shows that God values us—God deems us worthy—which seems to come as a surprise to most. Simon Peter, Isaiah and Paul all struggled with the gap they perceived between their capabilities and God’s confidence in them. “Go away from me Lord, for I am a … sinner, persecutor, foul speaker,” etc. Some questions to take to prayer are: What am I reluctant to see in myself that I sense you see in me, O God? What barriers keep me from my calling? Are these barriers truly insurmountable?
- The call is an invitation. In other words, God does not initiate a hostile takeover but respects free will. As a result, this requires an openness to God and a willingness to be in relationship in order for the call to be heard. A question to reflect on: Whose voice do you hear most in prayer: yours or God’s? If you heard/sensed God speaking into your life, would you recognize it from your own murky (and sometimes maniacal) motivations?
- The call seems totally bananas! Can you imagine what Simon Peter felt after a futile night of fishing and half a morning of cleaning nets when he is asked by this new rabbi to once more cast into the water?! Preposterous! Crazy! But oddly compelling. Jesus response? “Be not afraid….” A question for prayer: What new and strange thing or way of being are you sensing is next for you?
- The call does not promise to be a bed of roses. Responding to God’s call can be the most exciting, fulfilling, life-invigorating experience you could ever imagine. But it will inevitably involve a ton of hard work, adversity, countless sacrifices and sometimes even a healthy dollop of suffering. Not for the faint of heart. But for you, dear sojourner, there is no life like it! A reflective question: How do I stay strong and faithful when the call gets tough? Who or what are the angels of mercy God is sending my way?
LUKE 5:1-11 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
ISAIAH 6:1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
PSALM 138I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your love and faithfulness; For you have glorified your name and your word above all things. When I called, you answered me; you increased my strength within me. All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord, when they have heard the words of your mouth. They will sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, he cares for the lowly; he perceives the haughty from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe, you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me. The Lord will make good his purpose for me; O Lord, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-11 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.