Yesterday’s readings (5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Isaiah 6:1-2.3-8, First Corinthians 15:1-11, Luke 5:1-11) reinforced for me the understanding that God takes the first step. Fr. Jack wandered into the memories, for Cradle Catholics, of confession as a child: 7 year old knew they were sinners – Sister told them so. I didn’t have this experience – but as a child in calvinist protestant tradition, I certainly got the message that if you did something wrong, God would get you. It has taken me a whole lot of growth to understand that it is entirely possible to look at someone who is a total mess, who has made a real hash of life, and still feel in the bottom of my heart – ” I love you!” and offer the words, hug and smile to make that understood.
As I listened to the readings, and the homily, I just kept hearing that the characters (Isaiah, Paul, Peter and his buddies) only really understood how far off the mark they were until God/Jesus reached out and touched them first. Especially Isaiah and Paul were fine until they found themselves face to face with the Ultimate Reality. Both pull back — stay away! I’m not good enough! and God says – “I love you. Now, go out and tell the world!”
Br. David Steindl-Rast (Gratefulness.org) would prefer to use the terms “belonging” and “separation” instead of “salvation” and “sin.” I quite agree. When we see perfection, we realize our imperfections – and our separation. Sinfulness. Then, and maybe only then, can we be drawn into belonging and wholeness. It’s a bit like a Twelve Step program: before you even get to step 1, you have to somehow be aware that there is a different way to live.
It’s not enough to stop with the realization that life can be different. It’s easy to be paralyzed by that, true. But, God calls me to accept the Love and myself, and move on – set out on the road – get on with a mission. Use it or lose it!