Cycle C – Homily – 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 6 February 2022
Lectionary I Lectionary II
Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8 Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8 Psalm 138
1 Corinthians15:1-11 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11 Luke 5:1-11
One of the most powerful themes running through today’s readings is the theme of our absolute dependence on God. Going along with this is our willingness to do whatever we are called to do. We cannot do what we are called to do if we try to do it alone. We need God. This is true regardless of the type of mission we are on – whether it be secular, religious, or in between. Whether it be simple or complex, earth-shattering or mundane, we need God and we need our willingness to do what we are called to do. Regardless!
Let us look at these readings and see how this particular theme is played out today in Scripture.
The first reading from Isaiah is a rather well-known passage. Isaiah saw the Lord on a high and lofty throne. Keep in mind that the pomp and splendor of this setting was probably more significant to the ancient Jews than it is to us. But, Isaiah was overwhelmed and called out that he was doomed and that his lips were unclean. (In other words, he was not worthy.) An angel – a Seraphim – brought a burning ember and touched Isaiah’s lips and his sin was purged. Isaiah immediately answered God’s call to do whatever God asked him to do. If we think about this, we see that with God the frailties of being human are scorched from us and we are free to answer the call to do God’s bidding.
The last verse from today’s reading, “Here I am…send me!” is clearly the theme. “Here I am…send me!” That is a statement of our absolute willingness to do what we are called to do and of our total dependence on our God. Keep those two words – willingness and dependence – in mind as we go through the rest of the readings.
The Psalm is a Davidic Psalm. That means it is attributed to King David. Some Davidic Psalms were not actually written by David but that is irrelevant. Look at these Psalmic words: “When I cried out, you answered. You strengthened my spirit. You guard my life. Your right hand saves me. Your love endures forever.”
What does this sound like to you? To me it is a statement of God’s total embrace of each one of us. We are God’s and no one else’s. Our God takes absolute care of us; our God saves us; our God’s love endures forever. For what more could we ask? And does this not fit the theme of “Here I am…send me”? Add to that our total dependence on God. There is no question – only acceptance.
The second reading is from Paul. Paul tells the story of his own persecution of the Church and then his conversion and his dynamism about the message of the gospel. This passage is a brief synopsis of his call and ministry. Is this not exactly in keeping with our theme? When Paul saw the light, he did an about-face and, in effect, answered his call with the words of Isaiah, “Here I am! Send me!” Paul was absolutely willing to do what he was called to do, and he fearlessly proceeded, dependent on God for direction. Furthermore, notice how Paul clearly tells his followers exactly what he is doing. In the process, he is enticing them to follow his lead and do likewise – acknowledge their call and be sent, dependent on God. Paul is fearless in his mission, but he is also fearless in is answer, “Here I am! Send me!”
One thing we need to learn from Paul’s statements here is that we do what we are called to do and we acknowledge our call. So often we feel we are not worthy of stating what our calling is – especially if we have a high-profile call. But, Paul’s example is clear. He had a high-profile call and he acknowledged it. He tells his readers – and the rest of us down through history! – that we need to acknowledge our own calls; we each need to respond to our call; we each need to accept our call; we each need to accept our total dependence on our God.
This is a perfect lead-in for our gospel. Today’s gospel is about the call of that fisherman, Simon (also known as Simon Peter). If we paraphrase the story slightly, we see that Jesus had been preaching and the crowds were pressing around him. They were on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret. Simon and his cohorts had been out fishing and had come up empty. Jesus saw two of their boats and took one, asking to be pushed away from shore. Simon did this. Jesus continued teaching and then he told Simon and his partners to head back out and fish some more. Simon was dubious (as he often was). Nevertheless, the group headed back out and caught so many fish that they needed help to get them in without sinking. Simon and his partners immediately considered themselves to be unworthy of being in the company of Jesus. Jesus didn’t tell them they were unworthy; he told them that from henceforth they would be catching people – and they immediately followed him.
How do our principal persons fit in here? Well, that should be fairly obvious. Jesus, of course, was the leader. Think of his manly position, rather than his Godly position. He accepted his call. He knew full-well that his call was rather lofty. And, he said, “Here I am! Send me!” And, look at the others in this story! The crowds were listening to Jesus – both before he got on the boat and after as he was preaching from the Lake.
What about the others? Clearly the people were HEARING what Jesus was saying. That is why there was such a crowd at the edge of the Lake and why he was preaching to such a crowd from a boat. We are not certain what those people did or thought after they heard the message, but they could definitely say the first part. Here I am! Presumably many of those people went on to be disciples. If that was the case, they would have been completing the call. Here I am! Send me!
Finally, we have Simon Peter and his business partners. They were busy in the fishing business. They had had a really bad day out on the Lake. Jesus came along and told them to go back out. They caught so many fish they had to call for help to haul the catch in. This was a sign. Jesus was calling them. There was a job to do. And they answered. “Here I am! Send me!” Of course, first Simon declared himself unworthy. Jesus simply told him not to be afraid because he would be a fisher of the people of God. “Here I am! Send me!”
Can we follow suit? Can we say to our God, “Here I am! Send me!” or do we forget that our God will be with us as we fulfill our mission? Let us remember the adage, “God does not call us because we are worthy; God calls us to make us worthy.” Let us do what we are called to do and we will be made worthy. All we have to do is be willing – and depend on God.
Dr. Roberta M. Meehan, D.Min