Many people today have a rather low opinion of themselves. They look upon others as talented and gifted; they admire others for their accomplishments. They are able to sing the praises of others, but when it comes to themselves, they don’t expect much. I don’t know about you, but I am like that. But do you know what? We are in good company – Isaiah, Peter, and Paul also cut themselves short.
“Woe is me.” Cried Isaiah when God called him to be a prophet. He was convinced that he was unable to be of any assistance to God – he felt inadequate for the job. But once he trusted that God loved him and forgave his sins, Isaiah became one of the greatest and most important Prophets of the Old Testament.
In our second reading, we find Paul recalling that he persecuted Christians prior to his conversion. “I am the least of the Apostles,” wrote Paul; “In fact, because I persecuted the Church, I don’t even deserve the name.” Paul felt that he was one of the worst sinners the world has ever known. Certainly, Jesus would have no need for him; yet he converted more people than anyone can number. Because of his new faith, he became one of the two central pillars of the Church.
“Put out into deep water,” Jesus told Peter, “and lower your nets for a catch.” We know the rest of the story. “Leave me Lord.” pleaded Peter after Jesus miraculously filled his fish nets, “I am a sinful man.” Peter could not see that he had any worth to Jesus – let alone be invited to come along and help Him with His mission.
Finally, our thoughts turn to St. Blase – a good bishop who was martyred for the Church in the year 316 – his feast was last Thursday. Blasé felt that he was unworthy to be a bishop, yet he worked to encourage the spiritual health of the people he served.
Because of the persecution of the Church in Armenia, Blaise was forced to leave the city and flee to the country where he lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer. A group of soldiers hunting for animals for the amphitheater discovered the cave in which Bishop Blaise was living. They discovered Blaise kneeling in prayer surrounded by wolves and lions.
As the soldiers were hauling Bishop Blaise to prison and death, a frantic mother came along carrying a child who was choking. At Blaise’s command, the bone stuck in the child’s throat was dislodged and the child’s life was saved.
When the Governor tried the case, Blaise was told that he had to offer sacrifice to idols. The first time he refused, he was beaten. The second time he refused, he was suspended from a tree and his flesh was torn from his body with rakes. When he was at the point of death, he was beheaded.
Four men who considered themselves unimportant joined the ranks of the greatest. These sinners, these unqualified, these common, run–of–the–mill men became four of the greatest men of all times:
- Isaiah the Ambassador of God,
- Peter the first Pope,
- Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles,
- Blaise – the martyr who saved a child, and is patron of illnesses of the throat.
Every day, God asks us in many different ways to be of service to Him – to be “salt of the earth and light to the world.” When we realize – as did Isaiah, Paul, Peter, and Blaise – that – that apart from God we can’t do much, but with Him, we are capable of great things, then we will begin to have a better opinion of ourselves, and we will do great things.
It makes no difference who we are or how many talents we have or don’t have. Each of us is a person God can and will use if we let Him. God was able to speak through Isaiah in spite of his fear and nervousness. Jesus was able to build His Church through Peter whose expertise was fishing. He was able to evangelize and strengthen the young Church through Paul who initially was bent on destroying it. Finally, the Lord gave strength and grace to a bishop named Blaise, whose renowned will never fade.
If God could do such work through these four men, be assured that He can and will do the same with you and me. If we have no impact on secular society, we are useless.
Our challenge today in this “Year of Mercy” is to make a difference – like Isaiah, Peter, Paul and Blase. The things that God wants to do using us might be small and seemingly insignificant, but if we don’t do them, the work will not get done.
“Whom shall I send?” Isaiah heard God asking. Isaiah found himself saying: “Here I am send me!” Now it is our turn. “Send us!” God loves us – the way are. God is willing to forgive our sins no matter how terrible the sins have been. God wants to use us for His work, in spite of our limits and imperfections. We all have fears and feel unqualified and inadequate, but those feelings can be very things can be the very things that God uses to make saints out of us. Each one of us is a person God can and will use if we let Him.
God was able to speak through Isaiah in spite of his fear and nervousness. Jesus was able to run His Church through Peter whose expertise was fishing/ He was able to evangelize and strengthen the young Church through Paul who initially was bent on destroying it. He gave strength and power to a bishop who was in hiding.
If God could do such work through those four men, be assured that He can and will do the same with you and me. If we have no desire to have an impact on secular society, we are useless.
The challenge of the Liturgy today is that we have been called to make a difference – like Isaiah, Peter, Paul, and Blaise. The things that God wants to do through us might be small and seemingly insignificant, but if we don’t do them, they will not get done.
“Whom shall I send?” Isaiah heard God asking. Isaiah found himself saying: “Here I am send me!” Now it is our turn. ‘’Send me!’’