February 7, 2016 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
What is happening in the first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah? The Lord God above is seated on a high and lofty throne. The host the angels are all around the Lord crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. All the earth is filled with the glory of God.”
Does their cry sound familiar? It is the “Holy, Holy” that we sing before the Eucharistic prayer every time we celebrate Mass.
At the sound of the angelic cry, the Lord shakes the door of the house when he comes to see Isaiah. The Lord's arrival cannot be mistaken.
Isaiah knows that it is the Lord who is coming. And when the Lord comes, the prophet Isaiah cries out, “Woe to me, for I am doomed.”
Isaiah regrets that he is too human and too sinful to fulfill God's plan. Maybe he’s afraid that the Lord God will condemn him for his sins. Maybe he does not yet have the courage to answer the Lord’s call.
We are like Isaiah. We hear the call of the Lord. We feel the Lord tugging at our hearts. But we protest. “I am not worthy,” we say. “I am unclean. I have this spot of sin. I live among wicked people and I myself am shamefaced because of the sinful things I do.
We know that we are sinful. We are selfish. We are resistant to God’s plan. We are too attached to our own ways.
But then something absolutely fascinating happens to Isaiah. And this is where we really need to pay attention. The Lord God of angelic hosts sends one of the angels with an ember taken from the fire of the glory of the Lord and touches the mouth of Isaiah with it.
I can only imagine that the burning ember seared the lips of Isaiah and that he cried out in pain. It must have hurt terribly.
Then the Lord God speaks with clarity, “See now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is purged.”
But pay attention though. For the wickedness to be removed and the sin to be purged, the burning ember must be touched to the lips. And this is painful.
So we must look into our lives to see where the pain is; to see where the suffering is. We look to see if the Lord is not touching our mouths with the burning ember to purge us of our wickedness and our sinfulness.
Perhaps the hurt comes from letting go and letting God take control of our lives.
It is only then that we can hear the voice of the Lord, with clarity, saying to us, “Whom shall I send. Who will go for us?”
Notice the use of the plural. Who will go for us? The prophet Isaiah writes long before Jesus was born in Nazareth, and already there in our Sacred Scriptures we see signs of the Holy Trinity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Who will go for us?
The most Holy Trinity seated upon the lofty throne surrounded by the angels and the saints asks this question, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
We are called, each in our own way, to answer the Lord’s call. Have we been purged of our wickedness enough to have the strength and the courage to say, “Here I am. Send me.”?