We are all called to be disciples of Jesus. We are all called to serve God in some way. In today’s readings we hear three call narratives.
It begins with the call of Isaiah in our first reading. Isaiah is given a vision of “the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne.” He sees the Lord in his greatness with the seraphim by the Lord. “They cried one to the other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of host! All the earth is filled with his glory!“” Does this sound familiar? It should. It is the beginning of the Sanctus that we sing at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.
As Isaiah sees this incredible vision, as he sees the Lord, he feels unworthy. In fact, he feels doomed for he knows he is “a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” He does not feel worthy to see the Lord or to serve the Lord.
The Lord knows Isaiah’s faults. The Lord knows Isaiah’s sins. Yet, the Lord still chooses to call Isaiah to be a prophet. What about Isaiah’s unworthiness? The Lord knows what to do. He sends one of the seraphim with an ember to touch Isaiah’s lips. The fire of the ember is the Lord removing Isaiah’s wickedness and purging his sins.
One might ask why the ember is touched to Isaiah’s lips. Isaiah is called to be a prophet of the Lord. He will speak God’s Word to the people. So, his lips are cleansed to proclaim the Word.
In our second reading Paul speaks of his calling. He writes to remind the Corinthians of the gospel that he preached to them. This is his calling. The gospel that he preached was not his own. It is the gospel that he himself received from the lord, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.“
Paul speaks of himself as “born abnormally.” He was a zealous Jew who persecuted the first Christians. He never met Jesus before the Resurrection. His meeting Jesus was the risen Jesus. Because he persecuted the Christians, Paul says, “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle.“
So, how does Paul become an apostle? There he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” Paul did not become a great apostle on his own. The Lord made him a great apostle and sent him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
Then, in the gospel, we hear that Jesus “taught the crowds from the boat.” Jesus came to preach the gospel (“He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come” Mark 1:38.)
As Jesus was preaching, because of the crowds pressing in, He got into a boat, “the one belonging to Simon,” and preached from the boat. When He finished preaching, “he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Peter and the others had been fishing all night and “caught nothing.” Yet, as Jesus’ command, Peter lowered the nets. On their own they caught nothing. With Jesus, “they caught a great number of fish.” So many that they had to signal for help.
Recognizing the significance of this, Peter “fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Like Isaiah and Paul, Peter recognized his own unworthiness. Still, Jesus called him to be first among the disciples. “They left everything and followed him.“
On our own, we can do nothing. We are unworthy sinners but the Lord will remove our wickedness and purge our sins when we come to him confessing our sins. The Lord makes us worthy. When we feel we can’t do what He asks of us on our own, we can signal to others for help as we are called to be one body in Christ.