I think it’s amazing to let your imagination wander to this vision that the prophet Isaiah had in today’s first reading. Looking upon God in all God’s glory would be awe-inspiring, perhaps even terrifying. Seeing that, Isaiah is inspired to do a kind of examination of conscience, where he sees how sinful and unclean he is, living among people who are sinful and unclean, and realizing that having seen God’s greatness, he is doomed.
It’s a useful reflection for us disciples, I think. Because sometimes I think we are overly familiar with God, and don’t remember his greatness and power and glory. God is our intimate friend and loving redeemer, but he is also the creator of all the universe who holds all of us and everything in being by his own power.
So I get why Isaiah felt like he was doomed. But God will not have that; he has chosen Isaiah for the task of prophecy to the nations. So he purifies Isaiah’s lips and asks who he should send. And purified of his wickedness, Isaiah is able to say, “Here I am, send me!”
We too have been purified by Holy Baptism, and in that ritual the minister touches the lips and ears of the infant, opening them to the praise and glory of God. Not by a burning ember from the altar, but by the sacrifice of Our Lord, we have been purged of sin and called to holiness and ministry. Today and every day, we are asked by our awesome God, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”