While fishing isn’t as widespread a career as it once was, “catching people” is a well-defined science. Otherwise known today as advertising, this public art form is designed to hook consumers and take their money, their time and their energy. Once “caught” the consumers serve the advertisers’ goal. Everyone is together in the net. In today’s readings, Isaiah, Peter and Paul demonstrate the moral character necessary to become true “fishers of people.” These wise men of God are brought to their knees by an encounter with the Divine. Isaiah, Peter and Paul fish for people because God has first caught them. Divine light reveals their unworthiness, and they respond appropriately. “Woe is me,” exclaims Isaiah. “I am a man of unclean lips.” In the longer version of today’s second reading, Paul says that he is “the least of the apostles” and “unfit.” Peter tells Jesus to leave him, “For I am a sinful man.”
Humility is an unpopular attribute these days, but if you wish to be caught by God or to go fishing on God’s behalf, acknowledging your unworthiness is key. When I told a priest that I was thinking about a priestly vocation, remembering my high school and college days, I told him that I just didn’t feel worthy. His response was “none of us are worthy!” And with that, I applied to the Diocese to go to the seminary, and now here I am 38 years later! Before each and every Communion we proclaim our unworthiness, and yet, moments later we stand ready to receive. Our wise ancestors knew the importance of humility. They also knew that the unworthy become worthy through the grace of God.
Strangely enough, true humility which, on the surface, would seem to disqualify us from any form of meaningful ministry, actually prepares us to become fishers of people. Once Isaiah has announced his unworthiness, his unclean lips are cleansed; his guilt and sin are blotted out. Once Peter is on his knees, he is ready to fish for people. St. Paul says it best…”By the grace of God I am what I am.”
Today’s reading invites us to become an advertisement for God. Unlike our glossy counterparts in the secular word, we shine from within. Hollowed out by unworthiness, we stand worthy. Our brightness has nothing to do with color or design, money or power. Our salvation history, our journey with the Divine attracts others. This is our calling!
Peter left everything and followed Jesus. We are to do the same. Having a relationship with the Divine is not reserved for prophets and saints. God wishes to connect with each of us, and in doing so, we move from unworthy to worthy!! We become fishers of people – caught by the love of God shining through us!! And through ALPHA, we’ve gone on a fishing expedition. Join us!!
Have a Blessed Week!