5th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Called By Christ To Save Humanity.”
The first reading describes the introduction of the vocation of Isaiah chosen as a prophet. When Isaiah first heard the call of the Lord, he became deeply aware of his frailty. How could his impure lips speak in the name of God?
In the second reading, we have other examples of people chosen for a mission. They are the witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ. Paul feels that he is unworthy of the vocation he received from God. In spite of being a sinner, Paul became one of the greatest announcers of the Gospel.
In this Gospel reading Peter and the apostles are called and are transformed by Christ into ‘fishers of men’.
When we look at our sinfulness and our frailty we get discouraged. We forget that God purifies us and can work wonderful deeds through us, if only we would let him.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration, become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word, we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
The story of the call to Isaiah to prophesy begins with his vision of the Holy One in full divine authority. One day, while praying in the Temple of Jerusalem, he realized that God wanted him to be a prophet. He felt very disturbed, because he knew that the call was from the Lord of the universe, the all-powerful, the One who has his throne in the heavens and is continually attended by the Seraphim, who keep singing without end “Holy, Holy, Holy!”
He was also well aware of his frailty and his unworthiness and was frightened by the mission he was to be entrusted with. How could he, a man with impure lips, announce the Word of God, the Sabaoth, three times holy?
But God is not put off by sin; he is capable of purifying men and women to make them fit to transmit his message. Isaiah watched the Seraphim take the holy fire with which he came to touch his lips to burn away all iniquity. We could call this story the ‘Washing of the Lips’. Like the story from the Last Supper, the washing of the part implied the cleansing of the whole. Isaiah, unlike Peter, understood this at once. To have clean lips was to be made entirely clean and so he leaps at the chance to be the prophet of God: “Here I am, send me!”
Most of us fall into the same camp as Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah and Zechariah when it comes to responding to God’s call in our lives. We all have many reasons why God should find someone else; we say we are too slow of speech, too young or too old. What we really mean is, we do not want to be that holy. We do not want that coal pressed to our lips. Life could never be the same after that. When Isaiah was granted a glimpse of the holiness of God he understood his own wretched state. One moment of vision enlightens the conscience more than repeated moral exhortations. A person’s sense of sin is a barometer of one’s experience of God. Where there is little awareness of God, there is no sense of sin. Where there is a deep awareness of God, there is a massive recognition of personal unworthiness.
Do those who announce the word of God nowadays have the feelings and attitude of Isaiah? Are they aware that their lips are impure? In the Gospel we shall be hearing that Peter, when called by Jesus, will confess his sinfulness and unworthiness to carry out the mission asked of him. Our impurity and sin should not discourage us. They are not good reasons to turn down the ministry that the community wishes to entrust to us. God will purify our lips. How? He will correct what is wrong in our lives. We shall be men and women of pure lips when our behaviour will no longer contradict what we teach.
Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8.
The Psalm, too, finds its author in the heavenly court. It is a hymn of confidence and thanksgiving. It is a fitting prayer for one conscious of divine vocation like Isaiah in the Old Testament, and Peter and Paul in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 15:1-11.
Paul’s last problem in 1 Corinthians was the Resurrection. Some in Corinth were denying it. Paul’s reply gives us our earliest text about the ‘Resurrection of Christ’, pre-dating the Gospels. Paul writes in the mid-50s A.D; he recalls his preaching of 49 A.D. and his own instruction in the mid-30s A.D. The Resurrection was a fundamental of Christianity from the very beginning. Paul saw himself as the ‘least of the apostles’, since he persecuted the Church. But by God’s grace that is what he is. Paul reminds them that he himself saw and heard the Risen Christ, after which he spoke forthrightly and acted in Christ’s name. Paul was then able to regard his own conversion experience as putting him on a level with others to whom the Risen Lord had appeared.
Paul is inviting us to follow the same course: he advises us to take up the Scriptures, to listen to the Word of God being proclaimed in our communities, to open our hearts to our Risen Saviour and to the Light of the Spirit.
Rarely are the three Lectionary readings so integrated as they are this Sunday. They all portray God’s call, though in diverse and dramatic fashion. Isaiah, the confidant of kings, receives God’s call in an overwhelming vision of the Holy One in the Temple and responds simply, “Here I am, send me!” Paul, the former persecutor and forgiven sinner, becomes an apostle, affirming that “by the grace of God, I am what I am.” The Gospel proclaims Luke’s distinctive portrait of the call of the disciples.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus comes back to the shores of Lake Gennesaret to teach a crowd eager to hear his word. Peter, James and John are invited by Jesus to follow him. They leave their work and their families and friends to walk with him. Jesus teaches, challenges and calls the whole crowd.
All listen eagerly but only some will be invited to follow him more closely. When we accept the challenges by the teachings of Jesus, we discover that things can be different from what we thought. We begin to realize more clearly how narrow and limited our vision has been.
Simon Peter had let go of his pride in the area of his life where he thought he was a specialist and obeys Jesus’ call. Simon recognizes his illusions and his unworthiness. He is ready to move from being a fisherman to becoming a disciple of Jesus. He has become a new man, with a new name and new mission.
For Luke, the call of Jesus meant a radical decision to leave behind not just some people and precious things, but to leave behind everything. Whenever God enters our lives, he does things beyond human measure. He changes water into wine at the marriage feast at Cana. He feeds enormous crowds and there is plenty left over.
Jesus spoke to the crowds on the shore of lake Gennesaret and he told Peter to go fishing. Peter replied that they had been fishing the entire night and had caught nothing. Jesus ordered him to cast out his net again. Peter did what Jesus asked and caught so many fish that his boat was on the point of sinking. Thereupon Peter fell at Jesus’ feet and said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.
Peter sounds like Isaiah in the first reading: “Woe is me! … I am a man of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” This is the way people sometimes feel about God. They are so aware of their shortcomings that they cannot imagine God wanting to have anything to do with them.
Jesus’ words of assurance help Peter to overcome his fears and hesitations: “Fear not, from now on you will catch people”. This assurance makes Peter and his companions leave everything and follow Jesus. To take that step does not come easy. There is fear of the unknown and Jesus must help Peter to face his fears and overcome them.
For the early Christians these were not just pious stories. They had seen God’s power at work with their own eyes. A dozen half-educated, poor peasants and fisherman were sent to change the world. It was an impossible task to face the most powerful and well-organized Roman Empire. Yet, they had experienced how the ‘Word of Jesus’ could change people’s hearts and lives and how Christian communities were springing up everywhere.
Our faith is all about trusting and taking risks. Anyone who seriously tries to follow Jesus Christ knows that it is not easy. Most people think that it costs too much. Their earthly sacrifices are too great. Peter and his men know better, and so hopefully do we.
Our relationship with God will come alive when we decide to live differently from the way we have been previously living. That is the decision that marks the beginning of a Christian life, and there cannot be real Christian life without that kind of decision. Unfortunately, many people who have been baptized don’t ever make it – or maybe they only come to it when they are dying. They go through life like sheep in a flock without a ‘Shepherd’ – imitating, without thinking, what others do.
The disciples left everything and followed Jesus. For us, who claim to be disciples too, the question remains, what have we left behind? Are we still suffering from the illusion that we can call ourselves disciples, and at the same time, hold on to everything? The ‘fishers of men’ had made a catch beyond all expectations. Have we?
The mission to be ‘fishers of men and women’ has been entrusted to the whole Christian community.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the
5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Have you ever been called by God? Most of us will say, God calling me? Never! Think about the many times the calling has gone out from our parish and the community to serve. When we serve the parish and the community we are, in fact, serving God. Likewise, when our parish and community call on us, where do you think that ‘call’ is coming from?
Mon. … How do we respond to God’s call? We seem to have many reasons not to come forward. “I have no time”. No time to serve our Creator? Can we not make time for the most important being in the universe? “I would like to, but I don’t have talent”. God gave each one of us special gifts and talents. You’ll be astonished what you can do if you let God guide you. “I’m too young or too old”. It’s strange that we are never just right for the task. Our parish needs both young and old to serve in its many ministries and community groups. Youth provides the energy and vigour; age has its wisdom.
Tues. … Our lack of purity and our sinfulness should never discourage us. That is certainly not a valid reason for turning down an opportunity to serve God in a ministry that the community wishes to entrust you with. God will purify you by correcting what is wrong in your life. You need this ministry as much as the community wishes you to accept it. This is how God works; he knows what you need on your journey of faith to salvation.
Wed. … Paul brings us back to the ‘Resurrection’ as the foundation of our faith. Paul, in his conversion experience, saw the risen Christ. Paul is urging us to take up the Scriptures and the Gospel. We can listen to the Word of God proclaimed and rise up to a ‘new life’ with our Saviour, so that we too may personally experience the Risen Christ.
Thur. … When we accept the challenges of the teachings of Jesus, we will discover how limited our understanding of the truth has been from following the ways and values of the world. When we recognize our false illusions and our unworthiness, we begin to let go of our pride and open up our hearts to the Spirit of God and will start to see life in the Light of Christ.
Frid. … To take the first step in serving God is not easy. Our faith is all about trusting and taking risks. Anyone who seriously tries to follow Jesus’ teachings knows that it is difficult. We have all been used to the five-lane highways in our lives, which have been fast and easy, leading us to pleasure and false promises. Jesus’ narrow path to salvation is difficult to follow.
Sat. … Our relationship with God and our lives will come alive when we decide to follow in the ‘Way of Christ’ and to carry out the will of God by serving our brothers and sisters. That is a decision that marks the beginning of a true Christian life. How will we answer God’s call?
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, today we reflect on examples of people chosen for a mission. By our baptism we are chosen to serve. You have given us many gifts and talents that can benefit others and our communities. We pray that we use these precious abilities which You have blessed us with for the establishment of Your kingdom here on earth. May we never become discouraged by our weaknesses and trust in Your grace to always work through us towards the achievement of Your will. May our actions always be witness to the risen Christ.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.