Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the awe inspiring vision of Isaiah and what that has to do with shoveling out a pig stigh. Huh? How does it involve you? Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Isaiah 6:1-13. For Audio, “Read More” below. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887
For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/10/2013The 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Isaiah 6:1-13
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory. The whole earth is full of his glory. The whole earth is full of his glory and holy is his name.
The Lord is holy.
His people come to glorify him in his glory.
To be the people of God means we are to live lives that proclaim that he is holy.
The prophet Isaiah goes to Temple on a holy day. He begins to worship the Lord God. As he focuses on the Lord, an amazing thing happens. Isaiah begins to see the heavenly court in all of its glory. That should not surprise us because the earthly sanctuary, like the one we visit on Sundays, and the heavenly throne are closely linked. Both are imbued with the presence of the Living God and all of his glory.
Isaiah sees the seraphim which are around the throne. Seraphim are winged heavenly beings. They have no other purpose but to fly in the heavens and praise God. They are singing,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory, the whole earth is full of his glory, the whole earth is full of His glory. Holy is the Lord.
They fly around the Lord’s throne. What do you imagine the throne of the Lord looks like? No jewels here on earth can glimmer as brightly. No marble can gleam as cleanly. Nothing can approach the pure and spotless majesty of the Lord of hosts. This is the vision that Isaiah sees as he comes to worship the Lord of hosts.
It is an incredible scene. It is one that takes your breath away. But it is one that testifies that the Lord is holy. Anyone who approaches him, in this vision, must be holy. All of creation must be holy because it will come into the presence of the Lord someday. While we await for all of creation to be brought into the presence of the Lord and judged, we gather in our Churches, our “Lord’s sanctuaries”, places set apart for the Lord, for us to gather in his presence.
So, when Isaiah sees this vision, he says, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!” The Lord, then, provides for him cleansing so that Isaiah can see the vision. He then can worship the Lord with the seraphim.
Have you ever wondered why it is that we say a prayer of confession at the beginning of worship? It is because we, like Isaiah, go to our Churches and encounter the full holy majesty of the Lord. We do not want to approach the throne with the unholy things of our lives hanging out there. We are God’s people. We love the Lord. We want to treat him with holy respect.
When we gather together in our churches, their ceilings are lifted off, and we stand before the throne of God with the Seraphim singing,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory. The whole earth is full of his glory. The whole earth is full of his glory. Holy is the Lord!” (#205 Renew).
We confess our sins to be cleansed of our sins like Isaiah so that we can stand at the throne of God. Our churches are at the feet of the throne of God.
Isaiah sees this vision of the holiness of God and is struck by it. He hears the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” I want you to think about this. Who, when they are standing before the throne of God says, “Oh, I hope He doesn’t pick me?”
Who, having been swept up in the vision of standing before the throne of God, would not jump and shout and wave their arms at the Lord out of a sense of love, devotion and emotional rapture? So, Isaiah, who was not unlike you and me, he says, “Here I am, send me!”
This all reminds me of a farmer who had nine children. One morning at breakfast, really early in the morning, he sat down at the table with all of his children. He and his wife had been having a conversation, and the children do not hear all of the conversation. As he was sitting down, he said, “Whom shall I send? Who will do it?”
At the end of the table is the youngest of the children. He is about eight years old. He is anxious to finally be recognized by his father. He hears the end of the conversation and he wants to please his father so much. So he blurts out, “Here I am! Send me!”
The father looked up from his plate with a little grin on his face. He says, “O.K., son. You can meet me at the pig pen after breakfast and we’ll shovel it out together.”
I say that because Isaiah is like that little boy. He is witnessing the glory of God. He is swept up in our Father’s majesty. Eager to love him and please him, when the Lord says, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah says loudly and clearly, “Here I am! Send me!”
Then the heavenly Father turns to him and tells him, that he will have to go and tell the people that they have an aversion for the holy. He must go and tell the people that the Lord is going to ruin all that he has given them, because of the simple fact that they have forgotten that the Lord is holy and we must approach our worship of him and our daily lives lived for him with a profound sense of His holiness. That holiness of God must cause us to react like Isaiah did and say, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!”
Instead of a faithful community, Isaiah will encounter a community that has closed its eyes, ears and hearts to God already. He must go and clean out the pig pen called Israel. It is an unenviable task, but the Lord needs people to go do it. It is not just in Isaiah’s time, but in our time, that the people of God reject the Word of the Lord. They forget that they are to be a holy people because the Lord himself is holy. What we do as “the people of God” reflects upon God in the eyes of the world.
There was a young energetic priest who was sent to a church that the Bishop said, “wanted to grow.” The Bishop said that the little Church recognized that it was in a community that was growing by 10 percent every year. In the years to come, said the Bishop, this little Church would grow. “So, send us a young energetic priest, please, Bishop!” said the church. So the Bishop did just that.
After about two and half years of this young energetic priest getting no cooperation at every turn, the Parish Council met to discuss their discontent with the priest. The priest walked into the meeting and everyone was there. That was unusual. The young energetic priest sat down and the Chairperson of the ParishCouncil said, “Father, we think you are the best preacher we have ever had in our memory.” “Thank you,” said the young energetic priest. “And, Father, you visit the sick and shut ins better than any priest we have ever had.” “Thank you,” said the young energetic priest. “And, Father, you are a really good administrator.” “Thank you,” said the young energetic priest. “And you have got to move,” completed the Chairperson, “because you are asking us to do too much. We know how we are supposed to live, but we want a priest who will be more nurturing and tell us how good we are, not push us to live the kind of life you are telling us to live.”
This, my friends, is a true story. Let’s face it, being holy is not exactly fun sometimes. At least that is what we are lead to believe. This may be true, but being holy is not about being fun. Being holy is about being in love with the one true, pure, holy and glorious Lord God the Almighty.
Being holy is about losing your mind in the Lord. I can testify to that, because when the Lord said, “Who shall we send to Gary?” I said, “Here I am! Send me!” Everyone around me said, “You are out of your mind.”
Even St. Peter, who would be crucified upside down because of his response to the calling of God, said to the Lord “go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man!” when he had objected to Jesus’ power. Thank God that our Lord did what he was going to do in spite of St. Peter’s objections. This points out one of the reasons we reject the holy.
Think about it, especially in these gray days we have been having, who is really thinking about the holy day in and day out? We don’t think of the possibilities of one who is powerful, so we think in a little box. We think that things are not possible because of the hurdles we would have to face to make a difference in the world. We forget that the Lord is “other” from us. The Lord is holy. The Lord is mighty. The Lord is immortal.
He can do things that you cannot. He can help you do things you could never imagine. We reject the “holy” because it is beyond our comprehension and let’s face it, when it comes to God, we are control freaks.
We are afraid of the holy because it is beyond us and forces us to realize that God is going to ask us to do something. Yet, there is another way to look at this. Encountering the holy lets us know that we are not the center of the Universe and are only responsible for that which God asks us to do. Encountering the holy means that when we do what God wants us to do, we are not alone. Encountering the holy means that we can be empowered to change the world into what God wants it to be. Encountering the holy enables us to say, “Here I am, send me!”
So, this begs the question, where is God sending you? Amen? Amen.
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