10 February 2019
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings.
And they cried out to one another in this way,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’
The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:
‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:
‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’
I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.
Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.
I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless. On the contrary, I, or rather the grace of God that is with me, have worked harder than any of the others; but what matters is that I preach what they preach, and this is what you all believed.
Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.
When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.
The grace of God which is with me
Recently at Friday Growth, our spiritual director Fr. Andrew asked us to share with the person sitting next to us, what graces we received recently. “It’s important to acknowledge what God has done for us, no matter how small,” he extolled.
My sharing partner said that it was by the grace of God that she was able to find a contractor (by chance) to renovate her home, a major ‘add and alter’ job. He did it within budget, on time and beautifully. That, to her, was God’s grace.
Another person shared that she had been estranged from her son for close to 9 months – a fight and exchange of harsh words last year caused her son to leave home and cut all communication with her. For a mother, that is heartbreak and extremely painful. Grace for her happened just before Christmas. Her son re-established contact with her and they are slowly mending that relationship.
For me, I simply shared that it was by God’s grace that the day was uneventful. And I meant it. Since January started, I feel like I am being pulled in all directions. Not having a conventional job, people tend to think that I have a lot of time on my hands. Perhaps I avail myself too easily – especially to people or situations who need my help. From helping a neighbour in grief, to ministry work – everything started with the best of intentions. But lately, I started to feel resentful. Maybe because I have been trying to deal with some issues myself, but having to spend copious amounts of time on others’ issues and their demands on my time, I am feeling exhausted and used.
What is Grace? Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favour of God.
We see God’s grace permeating in all the reading’s today – we see God’s goodness and man’s unworthiness in Isaiah’s response in the first reading. In the second reading, Paul perceived himself as so unworthy and unfit to be called to apostleship because he “persecuted the church of God.” And finally in the gospel, despite Simon’s disbelief, God showed his grace by giving them more fish than their nets could hold.
Brothers and sisters, do we count ourselves as so unworthy and so unfit to receive God’s grace today? Are we so caught up in our own sufferings or perceptions of how things ought to be, that we fail to see God’s grace in our lives? Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.
For me, although I am feeling exhausted and used, God’s grace is giving me the time, intellect and resources to be able to do His work. I just need to draw strength from Him and believe that everything works for a greater good.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, help us to be good stewards of the graces given to us. Set us free to serve others with the gift you have given us, for the glory of Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thanksgiving: Every good and perfect gift comes from you, Lord. Thank you for your graces showered upon us, even when we are unworthy and unfit.