Commentary on the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1st Reading — Isaiah 6: 1-2a, 3-8

King Uzziah, also knows as Azariah, ruled Judah from 783 – 732BC).  The account of his reign can be found in 2 Kings 15:1-7 (Ancient Israel, p. 166).  It seems he died of leprosy, but ruled in a way that pleased the Lord. 

This is a call story.  Isaiah is being called to be a prophet for God.  Whenever there is the presence of smoke, one knows that there is an observable manifestation of God.  His “woe is me” reflected his fear and trembling at having seen the Lord.  Isaiah saw the Lord, repented, and was commissioned by the heavenly court to go and proclaim Yahweh’s word.  He went in peace and assurance  (W&W, Birmingham, p. 359).  How does this speak to you and your call?

2nd Reading -1 Corinthians 15: 1-11

How is Paul like Isaiah?  This is likely the earliest written account of the resurrection.

From Living Liturgy, p. 54:   A theophany or appearance of God always reveals our own sinfulness, but God’s focus is elsewhere – on call and mission.  God sees humans as people, created good, who can respond to God’s invitation.  Once Isaiah is cleansed, he responds eagerly. Once Peter overcomes his fear, he and many others leave everything and follow Jesus.  Paul also overcomes his prejudices and ‘blindness’ once he comes to know the Risen Christ. God can transform us! The astonishing thing about the good news of Jesus Christ is that we are all made worthy simply because God calls. All we need to do is respond with our lives. Even the ordinary can hold the power and presence of God’s love.  “God doesn’t call the qualified.  He qualifies the called.”

From Introducing the New Testament, p. 301:  We don’t know what Paul may have been referring to in saying “one born abnormally”.  There are other times when he says he has a weak bodily presence (2 Corinthians 10:10) and having a thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  Some say he may have been short (the name Paul comes from Paulus, meaning small).  A 2nd century writing says Paul was congenitally bowlegged.  Tertullian (2nd-3rd century) said he had frequent headaches.  Maybe it was his guilt over persecuting the church, or a speech impediment (2 Corinthians 10:10) or poor eyesight (Galatians 4:15; 6:11) or epilepsy (Acts 9: 3-4).  It may just been simply out of humility, which is certainly the direction he continues to go in the rest of the pericope. 

The Gospel — Luke 5: 1-11

Peter was aware of Jesus’ presence, but he didn’t believe Him at first that they would catch fish in the deeper water.  Once he repented for his doubt, Peter was ready to follow and respond to God’s will for him.  How often do we not follow God’s will in our lives because we don’t think it is possible?  How do we figure this out?  The GOOD NEWS is that God believes in us anyway, despite our failings!  

Peter was a fisherman who worked hard to provide food for others.  Think about when you have fed or shared food with another person. How was God working in this ordinary situation?

Joseph Fitzmyer, a N. T. scholar, notes how strange this metaphor of ‘catching people like fish’ seems to be. The mission of the disciples was to bring them to salvation (fullness of health). Yet, what fishermen do to fish is far from salutary!  He points out, though, that the Greek term that Jesus used to say that they would be ‘catchers or netters’ of humanity could literally be translated as “you will be taking them alive.”  The strange metaphor then comes to mean that those ‘caught’ or ‘netted’ by Peter and the others would be saved from death and gathered into God’s Kingdom.        (Celebrations, Feb. 1998)

There is also meaning in Jesus’ words “put out into the deep water” to lower their nets for a catch (v.4). Those who wish to bring people to God must be willing to venture into the deep, to unfamiliar and unchartered territories.  It is important to go where the people are and draw them to God . . . Celebrations, Feb., 2004

There is the spirit that will make an effort.  If Jesus said it, tired as he was, Peter was prepared to try again.  For most people the disaster of life is that they give up just one effort too soon.  There is the spirit which will attempt what seems hopeless.  The night was past and the night was the time for fishing.  All the circumstances were unfavorable, but Peter says, “Let circumstances be what they may, if you say so, we will try again.”  Too often we wait because the time is not opportune.  If we wait for a perfect set of circumstances we will never begin at all.  If we want a miracle we must take Jesus at his word when he bids us attempt the impossible, (Wm. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible, p. 53-54).

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