Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

During these past few weeks of Ordinary Time our readings have given us various stories of a “call to mission.”  Our readings for this last Sunday before Lent continues that theme…

Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11

Our first reading is from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  Most of the stories of the prophets begin, quite logically, with the story of their calling.  The book on Isaiah, however, follows a slightly different construct.  It opens with his great oracle of indictment against the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  This continues for the first 5 chapters.  Then when we get to Chapter 6, we go from oratory to narrative history.  This is where we begin our first reading, with the story of Isaiah’s calling.  That story is presented as a vision where Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on a great throne in the Temple.  Isaiah feels he is unworthy, but one of the seraphim (a class of angels) sees this and purifies his lips, purging his sins.  Then he hears the Lord calling for someone to send to his people, Isaiah replies, “Send me!”  Our Psalm mirrors this vision when we sing “In the sight of angels I will sing your praises, Lord.”  The power of the Lord has cleansed his sins, and like a baptism, is like a new creation ready to speak the word of the Lord.

Our Gospel from Luke picks up shortly after our story from last week (where Jesus is rejected in Nazareth).  He’s back on the road, heading back to Capernaum, where he meets up with Simon, along with his fishing partners James and John.  Jesus has attracted a crowd, so he asks Simon to take him out in the boat a short distance from shore.  When he finishes teaching, he then tells Simon to pull out to the deep water and cast his nets.  Simon is reluctant, having already spent the day fishing only to get nothing, but he signals his partners and together they haul in two boatloads of fish.  Simon and the others are amazed, and Jesus invites them to join him and become “fishers of men.”

Our second reading concludes our study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, appropriately with the beginning of his closing narrative.  As is typical of his letters, he begins his conclusion with a recap of what he has taught and shown them.  By restating what he has taught them, we are reminded of the basic tenants of our faith… establishing our faith tradition, if you will, by reminding us that Christ died for our sins, was buried, rose again, a evidenced by those who saw him.  This is our tradition.  This is our story, passed from the Apostles and the evangelists, through countless generations, to us here today.  We all have the opportunity for salvation through Christ.  If this passage sounds familiar, it should… because we profess these same words in our Creed at most every Mass.  This is what we’ve been told.  This is what we believe.  This is what we pass on.

Final Thoughts:
As we listen to these stories of prophets, apostles, and even Jesus himself being called to serve the Lord, we sometimes walk away thinking that these were all extraordinary people, and that we could never live up to that calling.  If that’s what we feel, however, we’ve misinterpreted the message.  All these people, from Isaiah, to Paul, to even Jesus himself, felt unworthy at the start.  We are all called by God.  Sometimes in extraordinary ways, and sometimes in just ordinary ways.  But never doubt that what brings you to formation, what brings you to know God better, is his voice calling to you.  My advice… answer the call.

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