Bro. Resty M. Castillo
In the readings today we hear the two parallel stories of encounter that lead to conversion and mission. The two stories are a great illustration of how God calls each person to a unique “Vocation”. These two stories show that every vocation always begins with the encounter.
In the vision of Prophet Isaiah; the heaven opens, and he sees the choir of angels and seraphim shouting reverently to each other, “Holy! Holy! Holy! The earth is full of your glory!” That is right, the earth is full of glory whenever God’s Divine presence is with us. It is so amazing to realize then that the earth is full of God’s glory. Imagine how beautiful and exciting it is to begin each day of our life because the earth is full of God’s glory. Isaiah receives this vision of God in a most extraordinary and majestic way. In this presence of divine power, he recognized that he is a man of unclean lips and that he lives with people with unclean lips as well. We can identify with Isaiah’s experience of God whenever we feel the incredible love and mercy of God despite our sinfulness. He believes that God appeared for a reason. His intuition is correct as God asks, “Whom shall I send?” God’s acceptance of Isaiah’s unworthiness, being a man with unclean lips, opens the door for God to work in him. To make him worthy, God purifies him by touching his lips with a burning coil and the Angel says “here you are, now you have been made clean.” Immediately Isaiah responds, “Here I am Lord, send me!”
In the gospel, a parallel encounter with God is proclaimed. This time although it took place sans the very dramatic and extraordinary way as Isaiah’s, it just as powerful and life-changing. Jesus got into Peter’s boat which symbolizes the Church. After teaching, Jesus asks Peter to cast the net for a catch. This second action of Jesus represents the call to mission. The miraculous catch of fish has terrified Peter as he also became conscious of his unworthiness in the presence of the Divine power in Jesus. Peter says: “Depart from me oh Lord for I am a sinful man.” Peter is always the apostle who is very human and is prone to a knee-jerk reaction. This characteristic though endearing in his spontaneity becomes a stumbling block, a hindrance to the Lord in lots of ways. But Jesus accepts him, and says, “Do not worry! From now on you will be fisher of man.” It is natural for us human beings to react like Peter, and we will probably react in the same way if we were to have the same divine encounter.
Peter’s encounter with Jesus is our experience, too. We encounter him in different ways in the ordinariness of our life. But we encounter God as one Body, one community in a most special way when we are gathered celebrating the Holy Eucharist. We encounter Him here in a majestic way far beyond what our human senses can perceive. The whole church is full of God’s glory beyond what our naked eye can see. In faith, the awareness of God’s presence sheds light on our own realities and leads us to recognize our brokenness and unworthiness. From the altar the priest representing all of us before God prays before the proclamation of the Gospel, “Cleanse my heart and my lips so that I may worthily proclaim your Word.” The Word of God, then is the burning coil that touches our lips to purify us, just as the burning coil touched Isaiah’s and rendered it pure. In Peter’s encounter with Jesus, the burning coil is the Word made flesh, the very person of Jesus Christ. Now the Church continues to experience the encounter, healing, conversion, and the call to the mission by the purifying Word proclaimed during the Holy Mass.
After the celebration of the Eucharist, we are sent to the mission. And our mission is to fill the earth with God’s glory by our life’s witness. This will not be possible without the grace of God. Whenever we fail in doing this, we can pray like Saint Paul in today’s second reading that God’s grace will be effective in us, that no matter how broken and unfaithful we are, we may recognize God’s fidelity and his invitation. The only eloquent response we can ever give then is “Here I am Lord!”