Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2010

kenya

Isaiah 6.1-2, 3-8

1 Cor 15.1-11

Luke 5.1-11

In today’s gospel passage Jesus meets people at their place of work. Seeing first the fishermen and then their boats he uses both to further his message. The boat becomes a pulpit, a place from where his word is proclaimed. The congregation is drawn from those who are close at hand and willing to journey to hear the word.  It is a reminder to us that God’s word is not reserved for church or cathedral.  Isn’t there a danger that we will do this and fail to experience the many ways in which our loving God comes to us in our daily experiences?  Where have you and I experienced God coming to us recently outside of church?

Isn’t there something reassuring in today’s readings insofar we are reminded that God is not looking for perfection but rather willingness to try to do better?

We could call this 5th Sunday, “Good Excuse” Sunday.  In each of the three readings – Isaiah, Paul and Peter feel they have very good excuses for not accepting God’s call. None of them feels worthy or capable enough:

  • ·Isaiah’s reply is “What a wretched state I am in, I am a man of unclean lips”.
  • ·Paul says that he hardly deserves the name of apostle, being the least of the apostles because of his persecution of Christians.
  • ·Peter tells Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish: “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man”.

Each knows that he is in the presence of the Holy One and they believe that they are totally unworthy of God’s choice of them.

They experience what we might call ‘Spiritual Inferiority’.

This, of course, is whole point of today’s readings. God chooses us because he is good and not because we are worthy. Jesus does not deny what Peter says about being a sinful man but he calls him in the hope that Peter will realise that the work Jesus is entrusting to him could never be accomplished by man or woman without the powerful help of God’s Spirit.  It will take Peter, as it does all of us, a whole lifetime to realise how totally we need God’s help.  So here Simon as he was then called gets a new name, Peter, a new job and a new image. All three take time to complete their transformation.

This is indeed Good News for each of us this Sunday. In that we are baptised, we too like Peter, are called to witness to God in the world. We may immediately reply that we are not worthy and that we are sinners, maybe even great ones – another case of spiritual inferiority!!   But God considers us worthy and that is all that counts.

It is not Isaiah, Paul and Peter who choose God.  It is the very opposite.

Maybe we don’t want to be called. Perhaps we can see the demands involved. We might prefer to opt out. If that is our choice then God will leave us free to do so if we wish. But we will never have the deep peace and joy we seek if we search for it in other places apart from God.

We must remember that each of us share a common vocation: the vocation to be a Christian. Because we are born into Christian families, sometimes we fail to appreciate our Christian vocation sufficiently. Our faith is given to us personally by God. We have the responsibility to both cherish and nourish it. We are also responsible for the faith of others, particularly those who are near and dear to us. Christ has entrusted his mission not just to the Church, but also to us individually.  There is still work to be done. Let us never underestimate the difference we can make. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be real.  How will you and I respond to the challenge?

God sees the marvellous potential in each of us.  Some of the great saints like Teresa of Avila, Charles de Foucauld etc lived mediocre or in the case of the latter very sinful lives early on.  But God then touched them and they responded.

Do we not pray in the part of Eucharistic Prayer 2 after the consecration ‘we thank you Lord for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you’. If God considers us worthy who are we to object? We each have different roles to play in God’s plan to bring about his kingdom of truth, justice and forgiveness here on earth, be it as parents, priests, religious, teachers, or farmers etc. 

Peter had worked hard all night and caught nothing.  Jesus asked him to try again.  He could have objected saying he was exhausted or that there were no fish where they had failed to catch any.  However, he responded to Jesus and tried again. Look at the result.

Sometimes we too may get tired of trying to be good Christians. We may get bored, disillusioned with what we sometimes see going on in the church.  We may want to give up on ourselves or on others who disappoint or even betray us. 

To all of us Jesus says, ‘try again’. I am with you. I count you worthy. You have great potential.  But we must like Isaiah, Paul and Peter realise deeply that we cannot succeed alone. Like Peter we may fish all night in darkness, but Jesus the Light invites us to call on his help. He will make our efforts fruitful in his own way and in his own time. When Jesus was not with them, they caught nothing.  But when he was with them, what a difference? Not only a catch of fish but a great abundance. Their obedience was rewarded.

“Lord Jesus, we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence to serve you and others. Amen”.             

                                               Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA