Excuses Not Accepted
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When God calls us to step up to the plate to live and teach the Gospel of Jesus, we may look for excuses to be spectators rather than engaged players. “I am too old…too young…too busy…too unworthy…too whatever.” We learn from this week’s readings that our feeble excuses are not acceptable. Isaiah, Paul, and Simon Peter all tried the excuse of unworthiness to which God paid no heed, and all three went on to be champions for justice, compassion, truth, mercy, faith – for God.
When Isaiah pleads “I am a man of unclean spirits…” an angel touches his lips with an ember, he hears the Lord asking “Whom shall I send?” and he capitulates: “Here I am…send me!” Simon Peter falls at the feet of Jesus saying “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,” but Jesus tells him not to be afraid, that now he will be “catching men” instead of fish. Paul writes that he was “not fit to be an apostle… But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” God does not deny human sinfulness but does not accept it as an excuse. My unworthiness is a fact, but it doesn’t matter. “Stop focusing on yourself,” God implies, “and rely on my grace to enable you to live in such a way you will bring others to me.”
In a few days, Ash Wednesday readies us for Lent. Despite discouragement, fatigue, inadequacy, will I start each day saying to God, “Here I am…send me?” With Paul, will I accept that “by God’s grace I am what I am” and God’s grace in me will be effective? Like Peter, James and John will I be ready to leave everything and follow Jesus? “Everything” meaning my excuses, my doubts, my anxieties, trusting in God’s grace to sustain me.
Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy and Member Relations