We are all called to be disciples of Christ. In Baptism we are called to be priest, prophet, and king. We might not understand how this applies to everyone and we might not feel worthy.
First, as to how it applies to everyone, we are not all called to be ordained priests. A priest is one who makes sacrifices. We are all called to make sacrifices for others. What sacrifices have you made for your family and friends?
A prophet is one who proclaims God’s Word. Not everyone is called to be a prophet in the same way the Old Testament prophets made it their whole livelihood but we can all share God’s Word in the way we life. At work or school, hold to the values our faith teaches us like always be honest, don’t steal, and do not be prideful. I recently read a story about a man who was studying math in college. He felt a strong call to serve God. Through prayer and discernment, he decided to continue his math studies in graduate school. After finishing his graduate work, he found a job where he rose to a position of power and was able to influence those around him to be honest and caring people in the way they did business. In doing so, he was a prophet.
We are all called to be kings, not as rules for power but in serving others as Jesus come to serve us.
Now I turn to the subject of not feeling worthy. On our own, we are not worthy. When we try to do everything on our own, we fall short.
Look at the story of Simon Peter in today’s gospel. He, along with his partners, was a professional fisherman. They had been finishing all night but had “caught nothing.” As they returned from their unsuccessful fishing, they encountered Jesus and listened to him teach.
When Jesus finished teaching, he told Simon Peter to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon Peter tells Jesus that they had been finishing but caught nothing but he will do what Jesus commands. When they cast their nets at Jesus’ command, “they caught a great number of fish,” so many “that the boats were in danger of sinking.”
On their own, they caught nothing. With Jesus, they were successful. Seeing this, Simon Peter acknowledges his unworthiness to even be in the presence of Jesus. Jesus calls him at that moment to be a fisher of men. In acknowledging his unworthiness and submitting to Jesus’ command, Simon Peter becomes the first among the Apostles.
Peter is not the only biblical figure to feel unworthy to be the Lord’s Servant. In fact, most prophets initially offered some denial of their calling based on a feeling of unworthiness and/or inadequacy. We see in the call story of Isaiah that is our first reading today.
Isaiah begins this passage by telling of an incredible vision he had of God’s glory. Seeing God, he said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips.” He feels unworthy to see God. In effect, he confesses his sins.
Responding to Isaiah’s admission of his unworthiness, God sends a seraphim with a burning ember to touch Isaiah’ lips to remove his wickedness and purge his sin much in the same way that God forgives our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and removes any mark of our sins with the fire of Purgatory.
Isaiah realizes that God has made him worthy and responds to the Lord’s call, “Whom shall I send” with “Here I am.” Are you ready to offer yourself in service to the Lord?
Our second reading offers us one more story of an acknowledgement of unworthiness. Before his conversion, Paul had been a zealous Jew who denied Jesus, aggressively persecuting the first Christians, thinking they were following a false messiah until Jesus appeared to Paul.
Paul became a devout Christian yet he felt who was he to be an apostle after his persecution of the first Christians. However, when he felt called by the Lord to go out on missionary journeys to proclaim the gospel, he understood it as God’s call and knew that God would give him the grace to do what He asked of him.
We might feel that our own past sins discredit us from speaking up against the same behavior by others. God can take our conversion from our sins, add his grace to it, and give us creditability that comes from having realized that our past behavior was wrong and that God has given the grace we need to overcome our sins.
God is calling you to be his disciples. Confess your sins and ask for God’s grace and guidance to let you to do his will.