The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? 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The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking The Easter Egg Fishing with Uncle Mike Loving Like Jesus God’s in Love with This World

God Is Not Kidding

Fr. George Smiga
February 10, 2013
Is 6:1-2a, 3-8; Lk 5:1-11

When God wants us to do something, God calls us. It might happen through a thought that comes into our minds, through the circumstances in which we find ourselves, or through an act of discernment by which we are trying to decide a direction. But when God wants us to do something, God calls, “Hey Gus, Carol, Michael, I want you to do this. Then it’s up to us to decide how we can respond, whether we can do what God asks or not.

In today’s Scripture readings we have the call of two famous Biblical characters. In today’s first reading we have the call of the prophet Isaiah, and in today’s Gospel we have the call of the apostle Peter. These characters, like most in the Bible, are called according to a set pattern. The pattern is this. God says, “Hey, I want you to do something.” The person being called says, “You’ve got to be kidding!” And then God says, “No, I’m not.” We see this pattern repeated over and over again: the call, “You’ve got to be kidding,” “No, I’m not.”

God comes before Isaiah in the first reading, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts!” Isaiah says, “You’ve got to be kidding! I am a man of unclean lips.”  But God says to Isaiah, “I need someone to send and I want you.” Jesus asks Peter to lower his nets and there is a miraculous catch. Peter says, “You’ve got to be kidding! I’m a sinful man.”  But Jesus says, “From now on, you will be catching men.”

This Biblical pattern is used in order to tell us what is primary and what is not. God’s call is primary. God’s call is more important than our qualifications. We are all imperfect, we all have shortcomings. Like Isaiah and Peter we are sinful people. But if we focus on those limitations and shortcomings, we will never be able to say “Yes.” We can always find someone else who is more gifted or better suited. So when the call comes to us, the Bible says it is perfectly okay for us to think these things, to tell God, “You know, I’m  not the best qualified person here.”  But we should also be prepared for God to say “I want you anyway.”

There are people here this evening who God is calling to be parents of teenagers. When you watch your children growing and changing and becoming more and more adolescent, you say to God, “You’ve got to be kidding! I signed up to have a baby but I’m not ready for this. I don’t have enough patience, enough wisdom, enough strength to be this kind of a parent.” And God says, “I know it. But I’m calling you, and I’ll be with you. Do your best.”

There might be some of us here God is calling to be reconcilers in our families. We see some in-laws or some other relations who are estranged from others. The thought comes to us, “Perhaps I should speak to one of them in order to bring about reconciliation.” Yet when that call comes, we say, “God you have to be kidding. I’m not the most diplomatic person. I’m not the one closest to this person. Why would you be asking me to do this?” God says, “I know, but you would have some authority if you reached out. Perhaps they will listen. I’m asking you to try.”

God might be calling us to do an act of kindness for someone at work who annoys us or to a kid at school with whom no one will associate. You say to God, “You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t want a new friend. I don’t want to hang around with this person. What will people think of me if I reach out?” God says, “I’m not asking you to be their friend. I’m asking you to do a simple act of kindness and to do it for me.”

Time and again God can call us to do what is difficult. And let’s be clear. We need to be sure that it is God calling us. At times we form thoughts or suggestions that come out of guilt or out of a warped sense of relationship. God will never be asking us to do what is impossible or to be a part of something that is abusive or hurtful to us. But God is perfectly capable of calling us to do some surprising things.

Of course, when God calls, we have every right to say, “You know, this is not my strength. I am not the best qualified. Perhaps you should think of someone else.” But once we have objected, we should also be prepared for God to say “I know all of those things. I am still calling you. And I’m not kidding!”

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