February 2, 2010 // Uncategorized

Meet Jesus through the Church

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time                                            
Lk 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.

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

It was not just that the prophet demanded that people mend their ways, but he wrote with such determination, even fiery at times.

Here, in this reading, Isaiah displays the fervor and power that are typical of the writing in all three sections of this ancient book.

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians provides the next reading. Paul recalls the death of Jesus and then the Lord’s Resurrection, reporting 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 responds to this calling. Through him, God works the plan of redemption and mercy.

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, and by extension the other Gospels. 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. But, the next most important figure is Peter. A fisherman, Peter 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, actually 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 in our time meet Jesus. It is in and through the Church, in which reposes the memory and authority of Peter, given by Jesus.

We need God’s guidance, and 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.

They are examples for us. Each person who hears the word of Christ, and is healed and strengthened by Christ’s life in grace, has a holy task. Each believer has a role in the work of salvation. Everyone is unworthy. Nevertheless, God calls us, and God will give us all that we need truly to be saved from our sins.

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