5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Isaiah 6:1-8
Reading II I Corinthians 15:1-11
Gospel Luke 5:1-11
In all of our readings this weekend the speakers share something similar: We hear in the first reading from Isaiah that when he was in the presence of the Lord he was scared, he was frightened, and he said, “I am going to die now. I am a simple man of unclean lips living among people of unclean lips.” And yet after his lips were purified with an ember God asked, “Who will I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah responds, “Here I am. Send me.”
Then we hear in the second reading how Paul acknowledges his past and how he persecuted the Christians before he encountered Christ. And because of his past Paul doesn’t think that he deserves, or has been prepared to be a disciple, and yet he also acknowledges his encounter with Christ. He acknowledges that he has been transformed by the grace of God and so he is no longer afraid and doesn’t hide his past, and he doesn’t allow his past to influence his strength as a leader.
Then we hear in the Gospel how Simon and his partners are done with their fishing for the night and have washed and cleaned their nets. Then Jesus came into their boat and asked to be “put out a little way from the shore” so he could speak to the crowd. Afterwards, Jesus asks Simon to go out a little further and put their nets in the deep. Again, this is after a long night of fishing without catching anything and after their nets were cleaned and put away. But Simon decides that since Jesus commanded it, he would do this. Fishing was their livelihood. So what happens? They do go out, drop their nets and catch an overabundance of fish — so much so that they call for the other boat manned by James and John. When both boats are so full they are in danger of sinking, Simon, who later became Peter, says, “Lord, I am not worthy. Depart from me. I am a simple man and I don’t deserve to be in your presence.” Jesus tells him, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be fishers of men.” Simon and James and John abandoned their livelihood and followed Jesus. And we know how that ends up.
In the three readings Isaiah, Paul, Peter, James and John all share one thing in common: They were afraid and considered themselves unworthy — and yet God spoke to each and every one of them and said, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”
In the movie “Frozen” there is a song called “Let It Go” and this is what God is calling each and every one of us to do. We are called to let go of our insecurities. We are called to encounter the grace and the mercy and forgiveness of God because Jesus wants each and every one of us to share his love and mercy with the world. Yes, each and every one of us is broken. Each and every one of us is sinful. Each and every one of us has qualities about ourselves that we do not necessarily like. And yet Jesus is telling us, “Let go of those things. Yes, I realize that. I created you. I made you in your mother’s womb. But let go. You don’t need to be afraid. Trust in me.”
We have those chances to encounter the forgiving Christ. God wants us to be forgiven. He asks us to come to him so he will forgive us and because he desires that — he throws the ball in our court. He is not going to force us to come to him. But those of us who have had those moments and encounters with Christ and have given up even a little bit of control in our lives — it is amazing, it is mindboggling what God will do when we even give him just a him little bit of that control.
When we realize what God can and will do for us and with us, we are called to do even more and we say, “Jesus, use me. I have no idea how and why this occurred. I have no idea how in life you will use me to accomplish this, but I thank you for it.” So it is a thing of joy. Remember we are called to trust him and as we know everything else passes away. We know that even with inflation money comes and goes. We know that cars get old. We know that the people we love pass on. Yes, we still remember them and hold them in our hearts. Even the compliments that people give us —those pass away.
The thing that does not pass away is God’s love for us. What does not pass away is God’s commitment to us. What doesn’t pass away is God’s desire to use us. God doesn’t need us but he wants us. He wants us to give our lives to him. He wants everybody to be in heaven. And so it is up to us to give ourselves over to him.
He is not going to force us to do so. That is one of the reasons we are called to love our neighbor and to love God because it is through our witness that God uses us and changes hearts. Again, it is God’s mercy that changes people but he uses our acts and faith and witness to do so. So he calls us to do great things, great things that may seem small to us but we do not know the impact that our lives have on one another. So what a wonderful world it would be, and an example of the kingdom of God on earth, if each and every one of gave up our fears, if each and everyone of us gave us our insecurities and we realize that, yes, there are times we are sinful, we strive to be faithful but we have these faults, we have these things that we don’t like about ourselves, but we are not going to be afraid and we are going to trust in God.
When we put our trust in God amazing things happen that we can never regret. So as we go throughout our days, as we go throughout our lives, let us strive to “Let It Go,” and let it go so we can serve one another and serve God with absolute trust in him. So share the Gospel and share his love and mercy with all the people whom we encounter.
Father Adam Pritchard is parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, IL.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0032)