5th Sunday OT C – (readings)
Today’s readings have a single underlying theme running through them: Recognition of God’s greatness/holiness, accompanied by recognition of one’s own unworthiness to be in the presence of such an exalted person.
In the first reading, Isaiah recognizes God’s holiness and shouts, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts!” The same words we say right before the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ here in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This triple repetition of holy comes from Hebrew; it’s how they say something is the most holy. Being holy implies standing apart—standing above everything else. And it’s God who stands far above all other beings, as he is their creator. In Hebrew “holy” includes the idea of “sacred”. It means that God has none of the limitations and imperfections that we have.
Now, typically, visions of God in biblical history induce feelings of fear in the seer; we even see this in the angel’s announcement to Mary when the angel says: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” We experience this fear because when we’re faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, we discover our own insignificance. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: ‘Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips’ (Is 6:5). Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus in the Gospel, Peter exclaims: ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ (Lk 5:8).
However, even though we are afraid when we recognize our own insignificance in the face of the Holy One, because Our God is holy, he forgives all those who recognize their own sinfulness, and seek his mercy.
This requires a substantial recognition of our own limitations, our own uncleannes, our own sinfulness. And that’s not always easy. Fear of God is one thing, but fear of the truth of ourselves is quite another. Often we’re afraid to go to confession because that means we have to face our true selves, we have to face the truth of any wrongdoing, of any sins we may have committed.
But this is what we’re called to do today: Recognize God’s holiness, and our own sinfulness. The only fear we should rightly have today is a fear of not doing God’s will and not entering into heaven.
As we prepare to approach the most blessed sacrament today in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we must ask ourselves, are we prepared? Have we fasted for an hour before Communion? Do we have any mortal sin on our soul? Have we gone to confession? Do we recognize in the Holy Eucharist the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ?
My brothers and sisters; God is here with us, ever present in the tabernacle, waiting for us. And if we’re prepared, we should have no fear of approaching our Lord for his mercy and forgiveness.
As Jesus said to Simon in the Gospel, “Do not be afraid.”