The Old Testament prophet Isaiah knew his unworthiness. St. Paul knew his unworthiness. St. Peter, Simon Peter, knew his unworthiness. It’s often when we look at our tremendous inadequacies that we may not feel up to the task God asks of each of us: to be priest, prophet and king.
In our baptism, we were baptized into Christ as priest, prophet and king. At the time of my baptism, like yours as laymen or women, we all received the graces to be able to speak God’s words. But I can assure you, many times I was so afraid because when I would look at myself, I would see tremendous inadequacies. “I can’t do that.”
I remember one of them so clearly; I was tending to the electric fence on our farm. We had a pasture where we had some of our pigs outside for a period of time. It was very muddy, and one of my tasks was to go around the fence to make sure there was nothing on it and that the pigs hadn’t rooted into it and caused it to come off, in other words, so it wouldn’t give them a shock if they got that close. And I remember that sense from God saying, “I want you to prophesy,” meaning I want to use you as a voice to speak my good news to others. But I had a deep, profound sense of unworthiness, “I can’t do that.”
By ourselves of course we can’t, but as we know from Scripture, with the grace of God all things are possible. You might be feeling like you’re the last one to be able to get up and to speak to anyone about your faith, but be not afraid. Invite God into those moments so that you and I will be able to speak the words the Lord wants us to speak.
We see in the prophet Isaiah, he realizes that he has unclean lips (6:5). In other words, he’s not going to know what to say, but the Lord came upon him. “See now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged” (6:7). Then he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” (6:8). It was then that Isaiah had the courage to say, “Here I am, send me!”
You and I are sent into our families, into our neighborhoods, our communities, our workplaces, to be a prophetic voice in the world where there is much darkness, to bring the good news and to be a sign of light and hope to people who are longing for the good news, who are searching for interior peace and hope and joy. And all we need to do is see the power of God at work in people like Isaiah.
We can use the example of St. Paul, of course we know his story. He was persecuting the Church. God has this encounter with him. He repents and becomes a great preacher, later to be known as an Apostle. And yet he says, “I am the least of the apostles … because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor 15:9). But what does God say? Fear not.
And of course the story we heard in the Gospel today, they were listening to the word of God and Peter doubts Jesus. We may have many doubts. We may have many fears. We may have many questions about the faith, about what’s going on in the world, our country, the Church, whatever it might be. Be not afraid.
Be not afraid. God is with us.
In the miracles we see, in the ways he gave graces to those who’ve gone before us, including all of the saints and the angels today, who in that beautiful passage from the Book of Isaiah, like the angels on top of the beautiful baldacchino over the altar in our cathedral, the place of sacrifice, to announce, holy holy, holy. That’s our Lord, God almighty.
We have almighty God who wants to work mightily in us, but the key is to have our trust in him to overcome the fears that hold us back from sharing the good news of the Gospel. Be encouraged, my brothers and sisters. Be encouraged.
You have the grace you need. It may not come in the moment that you’re in the encounter, but if we focus on God and we just listen and not let fear overcome us, we will have that ease, that sense and that confidence of the Lord to speak truth to a world longing for the fullness of truth.