Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
February 9, 2019 // The Sunday Gospel

Each person who hears the word of Christ has a holy task

Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 5:1-11

The Book of Isaiah is the source of the first reading this weekend. It was composed in a time when tranquility prevailed in the southern Hebrew kingdom of Judah, but dark clouds were forming on the horizon.

Isaiah, believing that God had called him to call the people to obedience to the divine will, warned that if the wayward and listless did not reform, and if the nation did not return to God, then disaster awaited.

No one wanted to turn away from the happy times and good living for the more restricted life that would pertain if all were faithful to God. Isaiah, despite or perhaps because of being apparently in somewhat a privileged position, was resented.

It was not just that the prophet demanded that people mend their ways: He wrote with determination and even fiery language at times — language much displayed in this reading.

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians provides the next reading. Paul recalls the death of Jesus and then the Lord’s resurrection. He reports that Peter, whom Paul calls “Cephas,” using the Greek term, saw Jesus after the resurrection, that James saw Jesus, and that even 500 of those who believed in the Gospel saw the risen Lord.

The reading also is autobiographical. Paul declares that he himself is an Apostle, having been called by the Lord. However, he calls himself “least” among the Apostles, since he, unlike the others, once persecuted Christ living in the community of Christians.

Unrestrained by this sense of personal unworthiness, Paul wholeheartedly accepts and responds to this calling. Through him, he devoutly believes, God works the plan of redemption and mercy.

St. Luke’s Gospel supplies the last reading. This particular passage shows the fine literary hand at work in the composition of the Gospel of Luke. Each Gospel is a carefully prepared document to assure that readers understand very well the message of Jesus. Here Luke uses the Gospel of Mark as a source, but then he adds details drawn from a source also used by John.

Of course, Jesus is the central figure in the story. The next most important figure is Peter. In this story, Peter, a fisherman, was in his boat on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus embarked. The Lord began to preach to the people assembled on the shore.

Then Jesus told Peter to row into deeper water and lower the nets into the water. Peter mildly protests, but he does as told. The nets are so filled with fish that Peter and his companions have difficulty in pulling the nets aboard.

Humbly aware of the Lord’s power, Peter confesses his own sinfulness. Recognizing Peter’s faith, Jesus tells Peter thereafter to fish for souls.


For weeks, since Christmas, the Church has been introducing us, as it were, to Jesus. The great feasts of the Epiphany and of the Baptism of the Lord told us about Jesus.

Now, subtly but firmly, the Church tells us where we meet Jesus today. It is in and through the Church, in which reposes the memory and authority of Peter, given by Jesus.

We need God’s guidance. We cannot wander from God. The readings firmly say this.

Isaiah, Paul and Peter all saw themselves as unworthy, yet fortified by God’s help, they became instruments of redemption. They fulfilled holy tasks.

Each person who hears the word of Christ and is healed and strengthened by Christ’s life in grace, has a holy task, even if they feel unworthy. Each believer has a role in the work of salvation. God calls each of us, and God will give us all that we need truly to be saved from our sins and to serve God.

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