St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

“Whom Shall I Send

“Whom Shall I Send?” – Vocation to the Mission                             -Homily February 7, 2016

 

I wish all the youth of the parish would read this message! Today’s readings are about “the call,” about the vocation to be a missionary, to leave everything you know and “put out into the deep water.” Not everybody is called to this state of life, but when we are called, very good reasons occur to us in order not to answer that call. We see some of them in the readings. Let’s examine them.

 

1. I am not worthy. The prophet Isaiah recognizes that he is a man of unclean lips. God does not say to him that he is wrong, that he actually is clean: God purifies his lips and calls him. God does not say: “Go!” but “Whom shall I send?” St. Paul also recognizes his past sins. He says that Jesus appeared to him as to one untimely born, because he was the least of the Apostles, unworthy to be called an Apostle, because he had persecuted the Church of God. Paul recognizes that what he is now does not depend on him, but “by the grace of God” he says “I am what I am.” St. Peter also says: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Isaiah was not worthy, St. Paul was not worthy, St. Peter was not worthy, NOBODY IN THE WORLD IS WORTHY! But God is good, and he wants you to help him. That’s it. You have to go. “Do not be afraid, you will be fishers of men.”

 

2. I am not strong enough. Peter says to Jesus: “we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.” You want us to fish, but we work and work and nothing happens. We are expert fishers, but our work is hopeless. Why do you ask me to do this? But Peter adds “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” In your word I will go for a catch. I will go trusting in your word, not in my expertise or my own resources. I am not able, but your word is able to do everything, because “God said it and it was created.”

 

When God calls you he is not relying on you, but on his power. He does not rely on our strength, but on his strength. That is why he says “Do not be afraid.” I made you able to catch lots of fish, now you will be catching people. People for me: you will be saving them from the ocean of unhappiness, turmoil and void to my boat of peace, where they will be with me, and I will enjoy their love. God is the only one who can do that, and it is in his word that you will be doing the same. You will be doing what God does, because God wants to share his saving power with you.

 

God gives you the strength not only to do the work but also to carry it to completion, to persevere until the end. Sometimes it seems that the boat will sink, but he is in the boat: Do not be afraid. The boat will finally arrive at the shore, because Jesus will always be with you. We are not strong, but he is, and he will never allow anyone to snatch us away from his hands.

 

3. I am not wise: God does not call you to teach your own doctrine, but his doctrine. It is not our wisdom we proclaim, but God’s wisdom: “I handed on to you what in turn I have received” says St. Paul.

 

4. I have to investigate many orders before I enter one of them. This is not in the readings, sorry about that . Sometimes, when a young person finally “decides” that he or she will follow Jesus in the mission, then the devil comes and says to him: “OK, now you have to see what order you will choose: in order to make a good decision, you have to see what options you have.” There are around 1400 religious orders. Is it possible, I ask, that God will ask a young person to examine all the existing religious orders to enter one?? Will God ask them to examine ten, or five maybe? My humble advice is: pick the one closest to you, and go for it. If it doesn’t work, then, and only then, try another one. Don’t look for perfection in a religious order, but for authenticity and faithfulness to the Church. And first be authentic yourself.

 

May the Lord grant us many vocations to religious life and priestly life! We need you, God loves you!

–Fr. Andrew