Go alone or go together?
Who is King Uzziah? I was confused by the mention of his name, so I did research: 2 Chronicles Ch. 26. He was a good King who followed God closely and was very successful. But, later in life, after becoming strong, he also became proud and was struck with leprosy as a punishment (so it says). Is this helpful? Perhaps.
Leprosy caused him to be excluded from community, meaning isolation. By becoming proud he excluded God from his life, and ended up himself excluded. Perhaps it was this image that made Isaiah think about his own life. We are also challenged to reflect on the state of my life.
Do I feel excluded or cursed in my life? Am I proud or humble? Test the answer by this standard: how much time do we spend promoting the good of others?
The first reading continues by explaining a process of purification – one that points out the pain and struggle to change our behaviour. Easy fixes are not possible as adults.
And what is the purification? It’s not a simplistic purity where we never have a dirty thought.
But to have a deep desire to involve God’s Will in my decisions.
St Paul’s summary of his actions in the 2nd reading are not simply a record of “work done”,
but a reminder to us of what God has done for us: no other religion teaches what we have heard: Christ died for our sins (God suffered for us), so that we would change our way of life.
In the first reading Isaiah was purified by a burning coal on his lips – he suffered in order to be purified. But, Christ has revealed God’s desire to suffer so that we might be purified.
Now, the Gospel reveals Jesus calling for Peter and his boat crew to try fishing again.
They protest that they worked hard all night and caught nothing.
Let the ocean in the Gospel represent the world around us; the fishing can represent our “work” and “home life”; and the fish can represent our success and our joy.
There are many days we are not catching any fish. But why? Is it inexperience, bad luck?
Is it our attitudes or our prejudices? Is it our self-righteous judgements or our selfishness?
Some of my friends remind me that “you don’t know how hard married life is.”
That’s true, but not many people know the challenges of religious life. Ha, ha.
Through Baptism we are all invited to be messengers of truth, beauty and joy. Today,
Jesus gives all of us a lesson in perseverance, and doing things the way God would do them.
As the First reading reminded us: purification often comes through painful processes.
In our situation today, it’s not easy to change our normal patterns of behaviour, and often it requires an unpleasant failure and consequence to wake up us: if we are humble enough.
Or it can simply make us mad and we continue our lack of joy in life, and make others miserable along the way. I say joy because happiness comes and goes according to our mind. Whereas, Joy comes from the heart.
The record of Jesus Christ recalled by St Paul in the Second Reading now challenges us:
Are we willing to suffer so that our children, wives or husbands might be purified?
Are we willing to suffer so that our friends or community members might be purified?
Sometimes the truth is painful, and being the messenger we are in danger of “getting shot”.
Telling a colleague that he is not suited to this work will often bring sadness. But, hopefully, later on the man will return and say thanks for pushing him to where he is happier.
Inviting your husband for counselling may not be accepted gracefully.
A few years ago Pope Francis invited us to be active ministers of MERCY. Jesuit Fr James Keenan SJ, explained: Biblical mercy is to enter into the chaos of someone else’s life.
One of our youth had an alcoholic father who never cared for his children for many years. He became sick and returned home for care. It didn’t seem fair to me, but the family cared for him and reconciled with his son before he died. That young man had more courage than me: more Jesus in him than myself: he’s now a joyful young man even though life is tough.
If we want to build more joy in our personal lives,
I think we also have to enter into the chaos of our “other’s life”, not run away from it.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI