Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Readings: Is 6:1-2, 3-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11

Do not be afraid; God transforms ordinary people and sends them on mission, as instruments of his kingdom.   The readings of this Sunday help us to understand how God transforms and sends ordinary people as instruments of his kingdom despite their unworthiness. All three readings lead us to one theme, namely that vocation is clearly a gift from God and that it 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 own 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 how God takes ordinary people and transforms them into instruments of his message. Peter is called from an ordinary fishing career, though unsuccessful the previous night. Like Isaiah, Peter too discovers his own 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. Three points sum up the message of this Sunday. 1) The readings help us to see how God takes ordinary people and transforms them into powerful instruments of his message. 2) Isaiah, Paul and Peter, serve as a model for not being afraid to confess our own unworthiness, knowing that God builds on that sincere confession to make us effective messengers. 3) The readings already anticipate the Lenten Season we are about to start, inviting us not only to listen attentively to God's voice, but also to recognize our own unworthiness and sinfulness, so that God may transform us for the ministry He gives each of us.

©2013 John S. Mbinda

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