Whereas people seek and hire only certified or qualified personnel, God does the incredible opposite. Whereas everyone avoids the risk of dealing with unskilled or amateur workers, God looks beyond the unprofessional risks and commissions the chosen. God does not ask for working experiences, still His business progresses, despite the challenges of inexperience. The simple reason is found in the outburst of the Psalmist: “If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, who would stand?” (Psalm 130:3). However, God does more than managing weaknesses. It is his attitude to weakness that is most striking. Rather than demand for the qualified (certified), God gets deeply involved in the process of qualifying us.
Unceasingly, God works with us through a triple C formula. First, He Chooses (calls) us the way we are (with our imperfections). Second, He Consecrates (cleanses) us. Only then, will He Commission (employs) us. This triple C formula, among other advantages, sustains inclusiveness – the character of God. Therefore, no one is excluded in the gratuitousness of God’s plan, as seen in the prophecy of Jeremiah: “Before I formed you, in your mother womb I know you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed,” (Jer. 1: 4). Knowing (as choosing), dedicating (as consecrating) and appointing (commissioning) confirm that the triple C formula is the true attitude of God toward humanity. The underlying implication is that God looks beyond any human excuses, and invites us to work in the vineyard.
Today’s readings provide further endorsement of the triple C option. Retelling the choice of Isaiah, as a prophet, the first reading (Is. 6: 1-2a, 3-8) highlights his flaw: “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips,” but goes on to report, rather than a rejection, a process of cleansing carried out by God. To compete the 3 Cs step, the confidence that Isaiah lacked was renewed, which urged him to affirm the commissioning: “Here I am, send me!.”
Similarly, St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15: 1-11) confesses that despite his inadequacies as a “persecutor” of the gospel and “one born abnormally,” (exceptionally called), God appeared to him, bathed him in the Spirit, and commissioned him. Paul’s example emphasizes the singular fact that what counts is not our flaws, but how our appreciation of God’s intervention in our iniquitous experiences empowers our present commitment to God’s work. In corroboration, Paul affirms that he toiled harder than the rest of the apostles, through the grace of God.
The gospel (Luke 5: 1-11) recaptures the triple C format with the personality of Simon, who became Peter, the first Vicar of Christ. His professed “sinfulness,” literal ignorance, and unsuccessful fishing business, were no hindrances to the plan of God for him. God saw in Simon the unharnessed qualities for spreading the gospel. Such qualities include the humility, the sacrifice and the patience, peculiar to fishermen. Jesus transformed the work of Simon from a fisherman to a fisher of men, prioritizing his potencies over his weaknesses. While the encounter of choice took place at the Lake, the work place of Simon, the consecration happened through a process, before the final commissioning. God’s grace can manifest instantaneously, but also in a process.
God does not choose the qualified. Rather, He qualifies the chosen. Aware of the triple C format of God in relation to us, let us focus on producing equitable evidence that proves our gratitude for the unmerited choice, the consecration and the commission, received. God bless you, Fr. Levi
The popular choice is the most preferred by the people. It could be on anything but most troubling on the standard of living a good life. Good life requires Best of choices. Unfortunately, the popular standard of life seems to contrast that very best. Popularity, which shares the same root with populace, has its strength in the majority. Popular represents that, which the “people” endorsed as standard. Besides its numerical strength, the popular standard should also pass the test of a good life, which leads to the ultimate goal of life. In so far as the popular standard tendentiously does not reflect that good life taught by Jesus, it becomes necessary to look elsewhere. The unpopular is the next to be screened.
If the popular standard is set and adopted by the people, let the unpopular be the command of God. The unpopular mandate of God is still to achieve popularity due to its oddness in the sight of people. At best, it contradicts, “What we want and are used to.” An insightful story might project the distinction between the popular and the unpopular standards of life.
A poor woodcutter in a village lost his beloved wife at childbirth. Even though the baby survived, the woodcutter never became whole again. With untold resilience, he rediscovered his lost happiness in his energetic handsome son. He practically lavished him with unrivaled love to the utter disappointment of the people. Their popular critique of the woodcutter’s love for the son, such as “he caused his mother’s death,” never changed the latter’s “odd” or unpopular affection. At the request of his son, the woodcutter bought him a horse, using his life savings. He was mocked by popular opinion, yet his constant response was: “God knows the best.” The popular gained momentum when the son, while riding the horse fell and severely broke his leg. Walking crutches became his support. This time, the people ridiculed the woodcutter like never before. Unwaveringly, his response remained the same: “God knows the best.”
Shortly, a severe civil war caused a compulsory conscription of all young men into the military. The incapacity of the woodcutter’s son averted his conscription into the military services. He was the only young person spared in the village. The drastic losses of the war included the death of all, who served in the military, from that village. After the war, the entire village assembled at the woodcutter’s house, and unanimously, confessed: “now we understand your saying, God knows the best.”
“God knows the best,” is a verbal expression of absolute trust in God. Even though it consistently contrasted the popular opinion, it stood tall, at the end. The unpopular standard of trusting in God, even though, a blind leap, proves to be the best choice. The first reading (Jeremiah 17: 5-8), confirms: “Blessed is the one, who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” In a similar vein, the gospel (Luke 6: 17, 20-26) evidences the oddness (unpopularity) of the beautiful Beatitudes in contrast to the popular standard of life. Paradoxically, the gospel flips the popular acclamation with woes: “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep,” and the unpopular command of trust in God with blessings: “Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.” Overall, to trust in God, as seen in the woodcutter’s story seems impossible, unless we first believe in the resurrection power of Christ, the basis of such “blind leap of faith.” This summarizes Paul’s teaching in the second reading (1 Cor. 15: 12, 16-20). May God enable us to believe without reservation the costly implications of Christ’s resurrection.
God bless you, Fr. Levi