Feb 7: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11
The readings of this Sunday help us to understand how God sends us into a spiritual awakening that leads us to experience His loving mercy and then and sends us on mission despite our unworthiness. All three readings lead us to one theme, namely that vocation is clearly a gift from God that comes to us when we acknowledge our human weakness and sinfulness. In the first reading, Isaiah is overwhelmed before the holiness and glory of God, and acknowledges his own unworthiness. “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips.” It is clear that in calling us God transforms us by his grace. That is the symbolism of the angel touching Isaiah’s mouth with live coal in order to assure him that his sin is taken away, his iniquity removed, and Isaiah then responds wholeheartedly to God’s call. “Here I am Lord, send me”. In the second reading Paul is aware of having been called to preach the same Gospel preached by other apostles. He is also aware of his unworthiness. I am “not fit to be called an apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am.”
The Gospel reading gives us another example of God calling ordinary people and transforming them to be instruments of his message. In Luke’s account of the call of the first disciples, Peter is called from an ordinary fishing career, though unsuccessful the previous night. Like Isaiah, Peter too discovers his unworthiness before Jesus who works a miraculous catch of fish. Peter falls before Jesus saying “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”. Just as God dealt with Isaiah, Jesus helps Peter to overcome his own inadequacy and sinfulness. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men”. We find here an obvious reference to Peter’s future apostolic ministry of bringing people into the reign of God. The positive response of Isaiah, Paul and Peter are examples of the ways in which God calls us out of different situations, but these examples also remind us of the risks involved. In the case of Peter and his companions, they are moved mysteriously to leave the security of their daily fishing career and become “fishers of men”, in other words, going out to proclaim God's message of salvation to people submerged in the ocean of today's world. We may feel unworthy and inadequate, but if we are willing to trust in God's care and grace, God will use us effectively to accomplish his mission. Three points sum up the message of this Sunday: 1)The readings make it clear that God calls the unworthy to make them worthy; He calls sinners to make them saints; and calls ordinary people to transform them into powerful instruments of God’s message. 2) The three players in the readings of today: Isaiah, Paul and Peter, serve as a model for us: they are not afraid to confess their own inadequacy and sinfulness. God builds on that sincere trusting confession to make them effective messengers. 3) The readings invite us not only to listen attentively to God's voice, to recognize our own inadequacy and sinfulness, so that God may strengthen us for the ministry God gives us.
©2010 John S. Mbinda