Introduction: Today’s readings present to us three people. Each one has a different experience of God. They are Isaiah, Paul and Simon. Notice their different reactions to the experience of the holy. Then notice how God the Holy One responds to them.
Each of these experiences of God takes place in a different place. Isaiah experiences God in the temple. Simon experiences God at his workplace. Paul’s special experience of God was on a journey.
Experiences of the HOLY.
1) Isaiah’s experience may be real or it may be symbolic. If real an angel touched or burned his lips with a coal. If symbolic it may speak of an experience that we all have. We speak of “getting burned.” Some examples of the way we get burned are: someone disappoints us, someone rips us off, and the death of someone near to us can in a way “burn us”. There are many other ways that we get burned. Sometimes the burning is purification. These experiences change us, we are not the same. This seems to have been the experience of Isaiah.
2) Simon’s experience is that Jesus tells him to push out from the shore and lower his nets on the other side. Remember Peter had been fishing all night. Jesus seems to have been a carpenter. But Peter does what Jesus asks. Why does Peter follow this direction of Jesus? As Luke tells the story of Jesus he puts the healing of Simon’s mother in law before this call. He also has Jesus doing some miracles before the call. Simon does put out into the deep and lets down his nets.
3) We speak of Paul being knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus. He surely had a special experience of God.
REACTION TO THE EXPERIENCE OF THE HOLY.
The reactions of Isaiah and Simon to their experience of the holy are quite similar. Isaiah cries, “Woe is me, I am doomed. For I am a man of unclean lips” Simon says, “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.” Paul also is aware that he was a persecutor and says the he doesn’t deserve the name apostle. Contact with the holy leads to us to contact our own sinfulness as well.
HOW GOD TREATS THESE SINNERS
1) In Isaiah God asks the question: “Whom shall I send? Who will
go for us?” Isaiah, now a changed man responds, “Here I am, send
me!” The rest of the book of Isaiah tells us how God used him.
2) To Simon’s response of awareness of his sinfulness Jesus says, “Do not be afraid from now on you will be catching people.” Jesus will use sinful Simon powerfully, especially as the book of Acts shows.
3) God’s choice of Paul too, is reflected in Paul’s marvelous missionary work.
Lessons for Life:
4) God can come to us in many different places and in many different ways.
5) The experiences in our life in which we “get burned,” change us. When we make contact with the holy we also make contact with ourselves as sinners. An awareness of us as sinners can also be a deepening of our relationship with the holy.
6) Sometimes God is asking us to put out into the deep and let down our nets.
7) God has worked with sinners of the past and made them
Missionaries, people sent to preach his word. Is God calling you to
some particular preaching of his word? In Spanish the words
pescador and pecador are only different by one letter “s”. We who
are in touch that we are sinners (pecadores) are also called by
Jesus to be fishers (pescadores).
8) The Vincentian Meditation for the previous Sunday made this statement: “Jesus modeled doing before teaching.”
I have often heard: “Actions speak louder than words.”
9) There is also a quote that many times is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It comes in many forms:
Share the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words
Preach the gospel always and if necessary, use words.
10) My personal experience of the Catholic Church in the U.S. is that we have put much more emphasis on teaching and doctrine to the detriment of the Call to Action.
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