Nobody is feeling very good about themselves in this weekend’s readings. Isaiah is doomed, Paul is unworthy, Simon Peter is sinful (and a little down in the mouth over not catching any fish).
I always laugh wryly inside when people accuse Catholicism of being all about guilt or feeling bad about ourselves. Often guilt is appropriate, and often we feel bad about ourselves without needing any encouragement from organized religion.
Perhaps Catholicism is simply more honest than some of the feel-good Gospels out there. Why pretend everything is hunkydorey behind our gleaming smiles and beautiful coifs?
I really identify with Paul in this passage. I spent a lot of my life wishing I was someone else. My flaws crushed me, and got in the way of the life I felt I was called to live. I could never be good because I was loud, because I was mouthy, because I was opinionated. There were a million reasons I could never be good.
But for whatever reason I kept responding to Jesus’ call to put my net in the water. Lo and behold, each time something would come up. I can’t claim Peter’s success in fishing people, but I believe that every attempt at following Christ’s command has brought me a little closer to holiness.
I still feel unworthy and scared, but I can’t stop. God’s desire to use my sinful self for a better purpose pulls harder than my fear. I’m not quite at the point where I can say with confidence “by the grace of God I am who I am”, but I haven’t stopped saying “Here I am, send me!”