Three quarters of the way into infamous “Pie Fight” from the 1965 classic comedy “The Great Race” the clown, I mean, crown prince comes into his own and utters a line my family enjoys very much and quotes very often: “You’re banished! I’m getting a new tucker-inner! Banished! Banished! Banished!”
We all enjoy laughing at this hilarious scene, the flying pies, the immaculate Leslie, the fate of the fired royal “tucker-inner” . . . or are we really amused by the antics of the pot-bellied prince in firing his staff? That someone can actually have—and lose—such a-hem (!) a prestigious position!
Or . . . could it be we can relate to that sense of being ‘banished’? Isn’t all humor pathos turned inside out?
Perhaps—without even realizing it—we are touched at a primordial level by that thrice spoken curse.
Do I go too far? Maybe.
Today’s three readings all hammer home the same message: man’s unworthiness, especially when seen with respect to God.
In the first reading, Isaiah is overwhelmed by the wretchedness of humanity when he cries out, “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!” (Is 6:5)
In the second reading, St. Paul calls himself, ‘one born abnormally’ and, ‘the least of the apostles . . . not fit to be called an apostle.’ (1 Cor 15:9)
And finally, in the Gospel, when St. Peter sees the incredible catch of fish which filled both boats to the point of sinking—after a night of fruitless fishing—he falls at the knees of Jesus and says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” (Lk 5:8)
Unworthy. Unworthy. Unworthy.
Yes, we are.
Indeed we are. But it's in the coming to see our very unworthiness, our deserved banishment that we can be rescued from it.
Jesus tells Peter it doesn’t matter, to be not afraid. There is work to be done—a new kind of ‘fishing’ to do. In effect, get to it.
Words I needed to hear today. How often do I look at myself and focus on my shortcomings?! They are numerous. They are equally pointless. However I look at it, I am unworthy, but I am still called.
Called from the banishment and unworthiness of my sins and my fallen state, by the One True God who made me, loves me and has a job for me to do.
Unworthy ... but called anyway! Here I am LORD!