7 February 2016: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Is 6:1-2a, 3-8 Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8 1 Cor 15:1-11 Lk 5:1-11

The call to walk with God

During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ stories and teachings from his everyday ministry. This week’s readings ask RCIA participants and all of us to reflect on our call to discipleship.

The first reading describes Isaiah’s call to be a prophet. Isaiah’s vision and call takes place in Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. He sees God enthroned in glory and is suddenly aware of his own weaknesses and limitations (“a man of unclean lips.”). The angel’s purifying ember cleanses Isaiah and prepares him to accept God’s call: “Here I am, send me!”

The second reading describes Paul’s call to be an apostle to the gentiles. Paul writes to his beloved but exasperating Corinthians because some members say that Jesus’ resurrection didn’t happen. In his letter, Paul repeats his teaching about Jesus: “Christ died, he was buried, he was raised on the third day.” This ancient formula came from Paul’s Jerusalem visit in 35 AD. Paul affirms his own traditions about Jesus (“what I also received”) as well as quoting proof texts from the Hebrew scripture that foretold Jesus (“in accordance with the scriptures”). Paul then cites eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus–“Kephas (Peter), the twelve, over five hundred disciples at once, James, all the apostles,” and finally Paul himself. Paul traces his call to his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:3-6).

Luke’s gospel describes Jesus’ call of Peter, James, and John to be his disciples. Jesus precedes their call with signs that he is the messiah:

  • Teaching: Jesus “sat down and taught” the crowds. Luke places Jesus in the traditional posture of a Greek philosopher, a signal to his gentile readers that Jesus is an important teacher. The crowds–including the fishermen–listen to Jesus teach “the word of God.” Jesus fulfills his messianic mission, announced in last week’s reading, “to preach the good news.”
  • Wondrous deed: Jesus tells Peter to “put out to the deep and lower your nets.” The fishermen catch so many fish that their nets are breaking and their boats are filled. Jesus’ mighty deed creates a superabundance that fulfills scripture. Through the prophets, God promised a new covenant in which God would exceed the people’s needs. The prophets described this new covenant as a feast that included fish. The plethora of fish indicates the messiah is present.

Peter, James, and John are now ready to hear Jesus’ request: they put everything aside and walk the path of Jesus.

Today’s readings remind us that God calls each of us to share God’s life. RCIA participants are still discerning God’s call; we in the believing community must continue to listen. God prepares each of us to hear the call–sometimes dramatically, sometimes in quiet ways; sometimes through scripture’s teachings, sometimes through mighty acts; over and over until we are ready to hear it. God calls us each by name. The call is there, even if we don’t want to hear it. Can we put everything–including ourselves–aside? Do we want to walk God’s path, or our own?

—Terence Sherlock

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