In today’s readings we observe Isaiah, Paul, and Peter each caught in a moment of responding to an obvious manifestation of God’s presence and personal intervention in their lives. Isaiah, afraid to speak in the Lord’s name, has his tongue purified by the touch of a heaven-sent burning ember; Paul, declaring himself the most unworthy because he had been a “persecutor of Christians,” is rendered suitable for apostleship by “God’s abiding grace within,”; and Peter, likewise admitting he is such a sinful man that Jesus should depart from him, is nevertheless enabled by Jesus’ words of encouragement to step away from fear, put everything down, and follow Him.
I am just sure that, if not with all three, each of us can at least identify with one of the personal encounters with the Lord described in today’s Liturgy of the Word. Might I not consider myself, at one time or another, “a person of unclean lips?” Are there not times when I, like Paul, would consider myself the least likely to be called into service of God’s kingdom for my past actions and decisions? Or, like Peter, simply feel compelled to say “depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful person?”
Yet and still, the Lord calls each and every one of us into the service of his mission and kingdom. Be assured that, if not already, today the Lord will require of us some act of kindness, understanding, reaching out, or courage to uphold the truth and maintain faith—in spite of our unworthiness and proclivity to sin. Isaiah, Paul, and Peter all carried on and moved forward in God’s service “for the sake of the Kingdom”—and each did so by reason of “amazing grace.” In all matters of life’s daily challenges, we would do well to recall the experiences and scenarios described in today’s proclamation of the Word. In the face of any challenge “to do the right thing” we should hear Jesus saying to us “Be not afraid!”—“Be not unbelieving, but believing.”