5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 7th, 2016

First reading, Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8: In the late eighth century BC, God’s people in the Promised Land had become divided into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern kingdom, Judah. Among outside hostile forces, Assyria was the dominant power in the region.

A fourth nation, Syria, was also vying for power, and trying to recruit Israel to support its ambitions. The kings of Israel and Judah started cooperating in political schemes to insure their nations’ safety, instead of relying faithfully on the Lord God to sustain them. This was the situation in which Isaiah received God’s mission to speak God’s word to the kings and
people of Judah and Israel. Yahweh permitted Isaiah to experience His magnificence in a vision in the Temple of Jerusalem. Experiencing the glory of God, Isaiah at once confessed his unworthiness, calling out, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” In the presence of God’s holiness, Isaiah became painfully aware of his own sinful human nature. However, when cleansed by God, he was ready for His ministry: “Here I am. Send me!” God gave him the courage to speak His word, interpret His will, and call His people and their leaders to repent and
return to God’s ways.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11: Some Corinthian Christians questioned Paul’s authority and disputed the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Paul silenced them by presenting the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Then he recounted the story of how he had been chosen to be an apostle to the Gentiles. But Paul confessed his unworthiness to be an apostle because of his former persecution of Christians and gave the full credit to God for his call to the ministry: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” That is, it was only by the grace of God that Paul was claiming the designation of “apostle” and only by that authority that he proclaimed the Gospel, toiling harder than the other apostles. He reminded the Corinthians that he had already passed on to them the traditional confession of faith about Jesus’ death and Resurrection, which he had received personally from Christ Himself. Hence, the Corinthians should not doubt his teaching about the resurrection, lest they forfeit salvation and wind up having believed in vain. A
real Faith not only accepts the content of God’s message but involves a total surrender of one’s self and all one has into God’s hands. Our response to God’s grace must be like that of Paul.

Gospel, Luke 5.1-11: The scene is the Sea of Galilee (Gennesaret in Greek and Tiberias in Latin). The Sea of Galilee was the site of many manifestations of Jesus’ Divine power. In the incident in today’s Gospel, Jesus preached from Peter’s boat to a large crowd jammed together at the edge of the water. When the teaching had ended, Jesus told Peter to pull out into deeper water for a catch of fish. In matters of fishing, Peter was an expert, while Jesus was only a carpenter. Hence Peter, perhaps not wanting Jesus to look foolish, explained, “Master, we have worked hard all night long, caught nothing.” Peter might have added that fish come to the surface in the Sea of Galilee only at night, or that the presence and noise of people would frighten the remaining fish away. Instead he said, “Nevertheless, if You wish it, I will lower the nets.” That declaration of trust was what made the miracle that followed possible. We may assume that Jesus smiled a little, indicating that he understood Peter’s point and still wanted the fisherman to take the boat out into deeper water. So Peter obeyed. This time, however, instead of pulling up an empty net, Peter and Andrew found the net was filled to bursting point, and they had to ask the help of their partners, Zebedee’s sons James and John, to help them bring in the catch. Simon Peter understood the message very quickly. Confronted by the size of the catch, he recognized the presence of God before him and became convinced of his own pride and selfcenteredness, that is, of his sinfulness. We find the same response in all three readings today. Isaiah, seeing the glory of God in his vision, says, “What a wretched state I am in! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips… and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of hosts.” Paul, not particularly known for his modesty, says, “I am the least of the apostles… I hardly deserve the name apostle.” Peter begs Jesus to go away. His simple confession –“Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.”– marks a turning point in his life,
and becomes the model for our response to Jesus. Jesus seized the opportunity to proclaim Peter’s mission, a call Peter was able to receive because he had seen the tremendous power of God. Thus Peter became the first person in the Gospel to acknowledge his sinfulness. He is also the first apostle to be called by Jesus. Today’s

Thus Peter became the first person in the Gospel to acknowledge his sinfulness. He is also the first apostle to be called by Jesus. Today’s Gospel concludes with an inspiring image of commitment: “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him”