Sunday, February 10, 2013

"We're Not Worthy!"

O.K., maybe I shouldn't have quoted Wayne's World on The Journey Home, but it is perfectly apropos with today's readings.  In the first reading we hear Isaiah's reaction to his vision of the Lord, "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"  Then in the second reading St. Paul states, "I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God."  And finally in the Gospel we hear St. Peter, staring at a miraculous catch of fish, tell Jesus, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."  And they're all correct.  When we approach God we should have that same realization of our unworthiness to approach such a magnificent, pure, loving King - given how many times we have failed to love Him as He deserves.

It's a far cry from the general kind of religious sentiment we see in our society.  "I'm a good person.  I've never killed anyone.  I don't cheat on my spouse.  I help out my neighbors when they need it."  That's just being a decent human being, naturally good. (And it totally ignores all the ways we daily slight one another and fail to give our all.)  To draw near to God and spend eternity with Him we need to be supernaturally goodJesus calls us to "be perfect" as our heavenly Father is perfect, and that it something completely above us human creatures - at least it is, if we are left to ourselves.

Supernatural goodness comes to us from God.  We hear it in Jesus' response to Peter, "Do not be afraid."  We see it in the angel flying to Isaiah and touching him with a coal from the altar, "now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged." It is St. Paul's "But by the grace of God I am what I am, [an apostle]."  And it is the prayer we make before going forward to receive the Lord in Communion, "I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed!"

There is the Gospel, the Good News - that Jesus came to call the sick, came to call sinners.  Until we recognize that we are sick with sin, we do not believe we need the Physician.  But once we realize how diseased we are, we do not give in to despair - God is the one who will make us clean.  He loves us right where we are - and He loves us so much that He refuses to leave us where we are.

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