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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Depart From Me, Lord! For I Am A Sinful Man

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb. 7, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Praised be Jesus Christ! 

Fr. John Paul Shea
As we begin this Mass of the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist I would like to introduce myself. My name is Father John Paul Shea. I was ordained two and one-half years ago. I have spent this time at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson, AZ. 

I am a convert to the Catholic Church. I was raised Mormon and left the Mormon Church at a young age and practiced no faith until our Blessed Mother called me to Her Son’s Church, the Catholic Church, several years later. I am very blessed to be Catholic, I am very blessed to be a priest, and I am happy and blessed to be here at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (also Tucson, Az). 

As we consider today’s readings for this 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us reflect on the greatness of God and our need to humble ourselves before Him. 

All of today’s readings (Isaiah 6:1-8; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11) spotlight individuals who were called by God to serve Him.

We start with the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had lived about 700-800 years before the birth of Our Lord Jesus. He lived during the fall of Israel. Judah alone remained, and Isaiah brought the message of God at a time when idolatry seemed to be taking hold of the land.

Isaiah is said to have found his calling as a prophet when he had a vision in the year of King Uzziah’s death. Overwhelmed by the
Angel puts a burning coal on Isaiah's lips
 to enable him to answer God's call
vision of the Lord, Isaiah said,
"Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" 

From the  first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul describes his call for to be an apostle. He was once a persecutor of the Church of God, but now God had now chosen him to preach the Gospel. 

In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus calls Saint Peter to discipleship. A
s he is fishing, Our Lord tells him  to lower his nets for a great catch. When Peter was astonished by the
amount of fish they caught, Jesus said to Peter: 
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

As we reflect on the call of God for Peter, Paul and Isaiah, we notice one similarity in each situation. All three of these individuals responded in humility. Each recognized their unworthiness. Each humbled themselves before God. 

The Prophet Isaiah response to God's call --  
“Woe is me, I am doomed!" -- is similar to both Peter and Paul's response.
Saint Paul -- who before his encounter with Christ describes himself as arrogant -- but
Conversion of St. Paul
on the Road to Damascus
now he calls himself as one born abnormally, the last apostle called and the least. 

And finally after St. Peter's great catch of fish, what does he doe? He falls to his knees and says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 

My brothers and sisters, even though we may not have had a sort of radical conversion experience as did Isaiah, Peter or Paul, God wants us to experience His grace in our lives.

If we want to experience God’s grace and  become who He calls us to be, then we need to humble ourselves before Him. If we want to
St Peter: "Depart from me,
Lord, for I am a sinful man"
make progress in our spiritual lives, we must first acknowledge our sinfulness.
It is only when we recognize we are nothing without God that He will act in our lives. And He will! God can and will work many great things in the lives of those who humble themselves before Him.

In fact, along with the examples of the individuals we hear in today’s readings, many people became saints because they humbled themselves before God. Saint Therese of Lisieux, for example, who lived in the late 19th century, never did anything great. She became a saint and a doctor of the Church simply because she acknowledged her littleness and her need for God.
 Humility is the key to discipleship. Humility is the path to holiness. If we want to get anywhere in our spiritual life, than we must first humble ourselves before God!

Many in our time and culture of today do not strive for humility. We instead want to be king. We hear terms today in our society such as “pro-choice” or “marriage equality” or “gay pride.” All of these sorts of worldly terms are rooted in pride because they reflect not the will of God but the will of the self. We want to act and live as if our bodies and our lives are ours instead of treating ourselves and others as a gift given by God.

Many Catholics today do not follow God’s call because they ignore the teachings of the Church on contraception. When Catholics are disobedient to the teachings of the Church, this is 
an act of pride. Pride will get us
A big fat act of pride 
nowhere in our spiritual life or to heaven. Seek 
conversion. Open yourself to God's grace.  

My brothers and sisters, we need humility. God is calling each one of us to discipleship. He is calling each one of us to eternal life. But, if we want to become who God calls us to be, than we must first acknowledge His greatness and our need to humble ourselves before Him. For if we humble ourselves before God, then His Divine Life will live in us and we will bear much fruit. May God bless us and help us! Amen!

Did you enjoy this homily? Perhaps you might also like to read Who is Fr. John Paul Shea? From Mormon to Catholic Priest

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