Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. 10-02-2019 by Fr. Lubem, osj.
First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8
Psalm: Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
We are presented today with the dynamics of vocation; describing the vocation of Isaiah called to be a prophet, Paul called to be an apostle of Christ, and Peter and the other apostles in the gospel reading called and transformed to be fishers of men. And a closer look shows a common thread that runs through the call of each of them; as soon as they were called, they recognised their unworthiness. This means that they were all people with an ugly past. So we hear the prophet Isaiah say ‘what a wretched state I am in! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.’ Paul says, ‘I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle…’And Peter the apostle says, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ All of these men were able to look at the nothingness of their human state in comparison to the greatness of God and realise that they are nothing near the greatness of God.
The prophet Isaiah has as the focus of his prophecy the holiness of God. That is why when called he thought himself unfit to proclaim God’s holiness and complained that he is a man of unclean lips. But today, even the first part of the Sanctus we sing at mass is supplied us by this same prophet in Isaiah 6:3 ‘holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.’ While the second part known as the Benedictus is taken from Matthew 21:9 ‘Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.’ So today God purifies those lips and makes them capable of proclaiming His holiness for eternity. Paul on his part as Saul was a religious bigot, brilliant and so passionate about Judaism his religion and even killed followers of Christ, but God called him on his way to Damascus and made him an ardent apostle of the gentiles. While Peter son of Jonah on the other hand was an illiterate fisherman, who had never travelled outside of Galilee and Judea, but Jesus called him to lead His Church. What does this mean for us?
This means that God is not interested in your past, for old things have passed away (2 Cor. 5:17). He can call anyone He chooses. He does not call the equipped, but He equips those He calls. None of us is worthy to be called, but nevertheless God calls us in spite of our unworthiness to make use of us if we let Him. So do not let your past hold you back. May be you have been trying a particular thing for years and it has not worked. Or a particular sin has entangled you and you don’t know how to break away from it. Why not give Jesus a chance in your life and you will see that your life will not be the same again. Peter gave Him his boat to use as a pulpit, and he never regretted this act of kindness. May be your marriage is not working, or your business, your career, your profession, is not working. Allow Him to have His way in your life and you will see a change.
When He called you into marriage to be a husband or wife, may be you thought to yourself I can’t do this. I can’t handle the finances. Will I be faithful to my spouse? You are correct, alone you can’t, but with God you can. Peter made no catch when relying on his strength all night, but at the Lord’s command he made such a huge catch that their nets began to tear. And it was at this point he realized that it was God’s grace working, and he no longer called Jesus ‘rabbi’ (master), but kneeling he said, leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man. Listen to Jesus and obey Him and He will make you a perfect husband/wife in your marriage. May be He has called you to be a priest, or a parent, or to be caregivers as doctors and nurses, or teachers, or lawyers, or business men and women, or other professionals, and you are beginning to feel overwhelmed by your unworthiness and sins. Remember He purified the unclean lips of Isaiah, He converted Paul and transformed Peter with the other apostles. He can do same with you if only you turn to Him as Peter did, and acknowledge your sins and ask for forgiveness. Relying on our own powers and strengths, we can never succeed, but when we listen to Him in His word, He takes us to where He wants us to be as He did to Peter and the other apostles when they obeyed Him. He has called you to develop into the man or woman who will fish for others and lead them out of the ocean of evil to salvation. That is why He gave you a new name at baptism, when you began your Christian journey. And to be successful on your journey, be a Christian everywhere and at all times. Not a Christian in the Church and a non-believer at home.
In the home, Christianity is kindness. Are you kind to your parents, spouse, children, siblings and family members at home? In business, Christianity is honesty. Are you sincere in business or do you cheat your customers? In society Christianity is courtesy. Are you polite and well-mannered in interacting with people around you or are you rude? At work, Christianity is fairness. Are you just or unjust towards others in the conduct of your work? To the weak, Christianity is help. Do you come to the aid of those who are weak or are you indifferent to their plight? To the unfortunate, Christianity is sympathy. Do you show compassion and pity to those who have been unfortunate or do you scorn and neglect them? To evil, Christianity is resistance. In the face of evil propaganda, do you surrender to evil or do you oppose it? If you have failed in any of these ways, turn to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation, and He will purify you to begin anew the mission of bringing His salvation to the whole world as fishers of men. May the Lord help us through Christ our Lord. Amen.