Homily: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings of the Day

One of my favorite programs was Who’s Line is it Anyway? I didn’t catch the ABC versions very often: usually I watched it on Comedy Central, which is OK because I think that it’s better without Drew Carey. I like a lot of the games they do, but the one that they usually have trouble with is called “Questions”. In this game, they have to answer a question with a question. First person to slip and give something other than a question gets replaced. We can even play “Questions” in real life. We can answer a lot of questions with one questions in particular: “Who, me?” Think about it: “Would you take out the garbage tonight?” “Who, me?” “Did you get the snow shoveled off the sidewalks yet?” “Who, me?” “When are you going to clean up your room?” “Who, me?” Sometimes, this is an answer to a definitive statement. “I thought I told you that you had to get all of your homework done before you could watch television.” “Who, me?” “You could fill up the gas when you’re done with the car instead of leaving me with an empty.” “Who, me?” Of course, usually this line works best when there’s a third party in the room, although that’s not necessarily so.

Of course, what is the usual response to the question: “Who, me?” Don’t all say it at once, “Yes, you!” Asking that question is usually a feeble attempt to get out of something, isn’t it? Well, there’s nothing new under the sun. If you look back to the stories of the call of the Old Testament prophets, that’s what they usually say, in so many words, when the angel comes to tell them that they’re the one to deliver the bad news. Isaiah was such a person. When he lived, there was a lot of trouble in his corner of the world. International politics was at a point when the kingdom of Judah was in danger of annihilation; the Syrians were in an expansionist period, and they would conquer the Northern kingdom of Israel in Isaiah’s lifetime. The faith of the royal house of Judah, descendants of David, was lukewarm at best and hypocritical at worst. Isaiah had this great vision and his first reaction was probably that question: “Who, me?” Me, a youngster, a teenager perhaps, somebody who would rather hide from the hard times ahead?

Paul has a similar experience, although we don’t talk about it today. He was originally Saul, who was charged with persecuting the early Christians. Then, on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians, he has this vision of light and a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” The voice is Jesus’ voice, and Saul spent three days blind before one of the men he was to arrest laid hands on him and healed his blindness. Paul had to endure a lot skepticism from folks at first; they didn’t believe that he switched sides, but Paul persevered. He faced a lot of negative reaction to his preaching throughout his life. When he writes this passage that we’ve read from today, you can almost hear his question “Who, me?” Me, the last person to see Christ, and probably the least. I have to preach this message and then keep writing letters to this folks who have a hard time getting is right?

Peter can join the “Who, me?” club. He’s a fisherman at the Sea of Galilee, a long way from anyplace, more out of the way than Jerusalem was. It’s fairly nice up there on this freshwater sea: there’s lots of fish it you know how to get them. You go out at night, usually, because that’s when you have the best luck. There’s a couple of borders up there you have to navigate when you’re doing business, but if you’re flexible you can manage it. Fishing is probably the family business; that’s how families where back then–you did what your father and his father did, etc. unless some disaster happened to your family or your country. Or God tapped you on the shoulder. Fishing wasn’t a glamorous business, and so for Peter to follow an up and coming rabbi is an elevation akin to Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies going to Harvard. And Peter probably wasn’t that old; he may have been a young man in his late teens or early twenties.

What do all of these men have in common? Well, when they asked the “Who, Me?” question of God, they got the typical response: “Yes, you”. Yes, you are the one who’s going to preach hope to a people whose nation is on the verge of destruction. Yes, you’re the one who’s going to preach the Word to the Nations, and travel even to Rome. Yes, you’re the fisherman who’s going to follow me, and betray me and end up as the rock that is the foundation of something timeless.

We’ve all received a call. It’s a call we received when we were baptized, when we were confirmed, when the Spirit moved us to walk through that door this morning. It’s a call that we usually answer “Who, me?” That’s something that I’ve said before, and something I’ll probably say again a few dozen times before the end of my life. And Jesus always has the same answer for us: “Yes, you!” We’re the ones called to be the Body of Christ for the world today. We’re the ones called to be today’s messengers and fishers. We’re the ones who are going to get the work of God done, if it’s going to get done. We have a promise: just like Isaiah and Paul and Peter we have the support of our God, who will guide us and keep us from going too far astray. We have a savior who will feed us on this journey. “Who, me?” “Yes, you.”

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One comment

  1. Monica Chapman · · Reply

    Love this mediation! Thank you!

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