#GoDeep is the podcast for February 10, 2019, the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. God doesn’t ask us to be worthy. He asks us something entirely different. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke #Luke5 #Worthy #Holiness #Yes #Peter #Isaiah #Paul #JohnoftheCross #CatherineofSiena #JulianofNorwich
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/10/2019 The 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 5:1-11.
Do you feel like you are not worthy enough to be a follower of Jesus? Do you feel like you are not talented enough to do a ministry in your [the] parish or invite people to your [the] church? Do you feel like there is no way that you could possibly be the one who God has called to advance the mission of God? You are not alone.
The people at the center of the readings this week are Isaiah, Paul, and Peter. We Christians think that they catch bullets in their teeth and always did. They are exemplars of the faith. Isaiah was a “man of unclean lips” sent to the king Hezekiah to proclaim God’s word in the face of Assyrian military aggression. His prophecy covers 66 chapters. Paul is tormented by how he persecuted the Church, yet he endured much and converted many. Now, we have Peter, he has the same reaction as Isaiah, Paul, and all others who encounter the glory of the living God: I am unworthy.
We can see in the mystics of the 1100s and 1200s this same kind thinking. Haijdewich, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, even these most holy people, mainly women, who were mystically united with Jesus Christ through prayer, they would often talk about how unworthy they were. They give us a central truth: when you get close to the light of holiness, no matter how good you really are, you see your sin, you feel your lack, and it is piercingly sobering.
“How could I possibly represent God? How could I possibly serve God? I am so flawed,” our minds race on. Then the Devil comes along and grabs that negative notion and creates an ocean of doubt. “Yes, yes,” says the Evil One, “you are unworthy and you should just stop. Stop serving God because you are unworthy.”
I suppose I would believe that craziness if it weren’t for one thing: Jesus told us to confess our sins and he gave us the Sacrament of Confession. He knew we would need them repeatedly. Yet, like Peter who stands before the Lord, we can feel unworthy.
Jesus has been busy in Chapter 4 leading up to our reading for today. He spent 40 days and nights being tempted by the Devil in the desert. He preached in Galilee. He was kicked out of his own synagogue. He cast out demons. He healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Now he is so popular that he has to get in a boat and use the mountainous shore line as an amphitheater to teach the crowd.
He is preaching in the same spot on which Peter and the others are worn out from a night of catching nothing. Jesus, then tells them, when they are depleted of energy, to go out and fish one more time. “Go out in the boat,” he says. “Cast it on the other side,” he says. Even in their exhaustion, in their wonder, they do it. This time, the power of the living God is shown and the nets begin to break open from the tremendous haul.
Peter reacts as all of us should as we enter the church and dip our fingers in the holy water, cross ourselves, and genuflect before the altar, which represents Christ. He is filled with awe. The awe of Isaiah and Paul who saw the glory of the Lord revealed before them. We know that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ brings the holiness of God into the human and makes the Lord accessible. Sometimes we take that accessibility for granted and diminish what holiness means. We would be well served to remember the holiness of God.
Yet, we should never let the holiness of God make us think that we are supposed to be God. We are not God. (As much as we act like it and wish we were, we are not God.) Remember, everyone has regrets. Everyone has been awful at one time or another, everyone. We live with ourselves 24/7 and we know our motivations and the things we do. For most of us, there is no one who kicks us quite as hard we do. So, we know how feeble we are.
If we take a look at the story, though, Jesus is not telling Peter that he is going out as a fisherman to encounter people. He is going out as an “apostle” or “one who is sent”. He is not going out with only “Peter-power”. He is going out with the glory of the Lord. Isaiah wasn’t going out with Isaiah’s word. He was going out with the Word of the Lord. Paul wasn’t going out with his own Gospel, but of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord isn’t asking Peter, you, or me to go into the world with our own power, own authority, our own healing. He is sending us with his power, his authority, his healing.
The people in the readings from today are not using their own power, they are saying “yes” to being sent. What they said yes to wasn’t that they would be God, but that they would allow God to use their lives to advance the mission to save the world. If you do not think that is effective, you are listening to me because a man 2,000 years ago said “yes” in a boat. Peter said yes and he also knew he was not God.
When God calls you, you simply need to say “yes” to him and let him guide you. Go where he sends you. Do what he tells you. Trust he will take care of you. Oh, just so simple, until we find ourselves out in the Mediterranean Sea at night after our ship has just crashed against the rocks. Even then, we can know that the Lord is with us.
It may not be a simple yes. Take a look at the story. Jesus causes probably the most lucrative haul of fish in Peter’s life. So, not only does he follow Jesus, but is leaving behind a living, a business, a livelihood, what he thought he was going to do for his whole life. This is where the holiness and mightiness of God comes in. If you know the Lord as the one who asks you to go deep on the other side of the boat, like Peter did, then you know he is able. You know he is because we are doing this thing called “church” 2,000 years after the fact.
Friends, don’t be conned by the voice within or the voices without. The Lord has a part of his mission for you, for everyone. We are asked simply to say yes to it. You are not asked to be worthy enough for it, you are simply being asked to say yes to it. Say yes. When you do, the people you will touch will touch others who will touch others, for generations. When you say yes, it will be meaningful and give you a life full of purpose. So, go ahead and say, “I am not worthy,” that is leaning into yes. Go deep. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian