Earlier this week, Pope Francis spoke to a gathering of Altar Servers in St. Peter’s Square. His words to them were very powerful and heartfelt as he discussed the beauty of drawing close to the Lord’s Altar and how that relates to God mission for our lives. Reflecting on the passage of the prophet Isaiah, wherein Isaiah is called by the Lord and he responds, “Here I am! Send me,” Pope Francis implied that God’s action and will is not impeded by our imperfections, but carried out by those who answer the call.
So many times fear clouds judgement in the hearts and minds of nearly every person. Rather than responding as Isaiah did by saying “Send me…” the response is often “Me? That can’t be. Send someone else.” When thinking about what God is calling us to, it is easy for us to think of ways that make such a calling impossible.
“Is God calling you to be a priest?”
“Me? No way. I couldn’t preach because I am not a good public speaker…I’m not sure I could give up the idea of having a family…I don’t think I am holy enough…”
These responses are common, yet are driven by fear of responding like Isaiah. At the root of those responses is the fear of surrender, a false sense of humility, and even a misunderstanding of who “I” am. It is important that we remind ourselves that God created us, fashioned us into being, and HE draws near to us, before we ever can consciously draw near to Him.
In Pope Francis’s address to the Altar Servers beautifully linked Isaiah’s experience to their lives as he exclaimed,
“Isaiah was astonished to discover that it was God who made the first move; do not forget this! It is always God who makes the first move in our life. God is the one drawing close. He noticed that God’s actions were not impeded by his imperfections; it was God’s goodness alone that enabled him to take up the mission, transforming him into a totally new person and therefore one able to respond to the call of the Lord, saying, ‘Here I am! Send me’(Is 6:8).”
God is the one who works through the priest even with his imperfections—that does not hinder God but allows Him to show His majesty and goodness. He works through every person who sincerely seeks His will and tries to live it out. As the Holy Father pointed out, it was God that enabled Isaiah to take up the mission. In the same way, God enables each individual to take up the mission He has for him or her.
As Blessed John Henry Newman points out,
“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission…”
We each have a mission, assigned to us by God from the moment He fashioned us in our mother’s womb. He created you and me with a specific purpose. Throughout our lives, He gives us inclinations as to what that mission and purpose might be. Lovingly, he leaves the decision ultimately up to us to say, “Here I am; send me,” or “I can’t…” It is through our passions, desires, gifts, talents—through our experiences, education, and families that God calls out to each person individually, uniquely. If we let Him, if we draw close to Him and respond like Isaiah, casting fear aside and not allowing doubt of our own abilities or God’s power cloud our judgement, God will equip us to carry out that mission.