God of Surprises II
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
February 9th, 1992
Isaiah 6: 1 to 8
1 Corinthians 15: 1 to 11
Luke 5: 1 to 11
The God of Surprises
Do you remember that was the theme which I took from the title of a book last week to describe the way God chose to make Jesus Christ known to the world?
He chose the moment when five people "happened "to come together in a particular place, the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem to be precise.
There was Jesus of course; and his Mother and St Joseph who had come to the Temple to do as the Law of Moses prescribed as an act of thinks giving after childbirth; there was Anna the old lady prophetess who spent most of her time in the Temple praying and serving God by acts of devotion; and then there was Simeon, a man who knew he didn't have long to live, but who was in fact the one chosen by God to set the whole thing in motion. He recognised that child and took him in his arms with the joyful words "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace."
Certainly a God of Surprises!
Now it's look at the lessons for today. Isaiah went into the Temple to say his prayers and as he was doing so God appeared to him "high and lifted up; surrounded by strange beings cherubim and seraphim; and the house was filled with smoke".
Isaiah was terrified "why should this happen to me!" he cried "I'm just an ordinary man; I done lots of things wrong in my life; does this mean I'm going to be punished?"
The sense of unworthiness in the presence of God is a sure sign that we have the right relationship with him. People who take their own righteousness before God for granted on the other hand are badly mistaken.
God chooses ordinary weak sinful men and women, who know what they are and where they stand with him, to be his Prophets, Apostles and messengers.
By contrast, the sort of person who "thinks he hasn't got anything to worry about" God leaves well alone as a rule.
Think of this morning's gospel and the experience of Saint Peter.
They were packing up for the day having caught no fish at all and were on the point of going home.
Then up came Jesus and asked if he could use their boat as a platform.
Well I daresay they didn't mind that much although it meant they would be late home for breakfast (they did their fishing by night remember). So they agreed to stay on a bit.
But there was more to come. Jesus suggested that they had one more try at catching some fish - just when they'd got their nets all nicely clean and stowed away. "Have another go" he said.
Well they did. And they caught so many fish that they couldn't handle them all.
God of Surprises!
When Peter saw this he fell at Jesus knees and said "Leave me Lord for a I am a sinful man" very much like Isaiah felt - shame and wonder. But like Isaiah, Peter han been chosen by God to be his special messenger or Apostle. "Do not be afraid" said Jesus to him "follow me and from now on you will be a fisher of men."
So the four of them left everything and followed him.
God of Surprises.
Now let me tell you about something which happened to me yesterday.
I was at a meeting at a church in Lincoln. As I went in I recognised an elderly clergyman whom I hadn't met for some time.
I know him to be a deeply holy and devout person who has served God all his life. If asked I should say he has all the makings of a saint.
Well, he greeted me and as the service progressed I became aware of feeling that I was quite unworthy to be a fellow worker with someone like that. Not to put too fine a point on it, he is good and I'm not.
Then a couple of hours later I went in to catch my train and I found there was at the platform an earlier one which was going back to London by a different route. So I got on it just as it was leaving.
The as I sat down there was that same saintly priest sitting opposite me so we talk with each other all the way to Spalding where he lives.
Coincidence? Well perhaps. But I don't think so. Our God is a God of surprises.
Mind you were idea and quite know why God should have brought us together again like this so deliberately. Perhaps it was chiefly for the other person's sake rather than mine. Whichever it is I expect the reason to become apparent in the next few days or weeks.
But I must say I do wonder what other surprises the God of Surprises has in store for him and for me!
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