Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 6, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Is 6:1-2a, 3-8 / Ps 138 / 1 Cor 15:1-11 / Lk 5:1-11
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Our three readings today have a similar theme. They all tell us about individuals being called to serve God.
In the first reading, we hear that the Lord said to the prophet Isaiah (who lived some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ), “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah replied, “Here I am. Send me.” In the second reading, Saint Paul narrates that, after Jesus had appeared to many other people, He appeared to Paul himself. Finally, in the gospel, Peter, James, and John are convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, after their boats are overloaded, and their nets are splitting because of the number of fish they caught.
Each of these men was called in a dramatic way: Isaiah’s sin being purged by a burning ember on his lips; Paul being knocked from his horse; and Peter, James, and John having their boats almost sink under the weight of the fish they caught. You might say, if God called me by performing a similar miracle, I would probably accomplish great things, too.
The truth is, God has called each of us. Maybe we didn’t hear His voice, or experience some miraculous conversion, but let’s face it, neither have most other people. I don’t recall that either Mother Teresa or even Pope John Paul II ever revealed that they had a miraculous calling from God. We may not consider ourselves in that kind of calling, but everyone has a call from God, although sometimes we don’t remember or even recognize the call. When I was called to the priesthood, I didn’t experience any miraculous incident or something supernatural. I thought about the possibility of becoming a priest, I prayed over it, and then decided that this is what God wanted me to do.
To those of you who are married, you had a call from God. To the young people here, by the very fact that you were born, you have had a call from God. We might say, but my call was so ordinary, nothing like that of our readings. The most important fact, however, is not the call that counts, but how each person, such as Isaiah, Paul, Peter, James, and John, reacts to the individual calling received. Those men merely accepted God’s invitation, and if we do the same, then our lives can be fulfilling, as their lives were.
For example, how does a married person react positively to the call of God? Of course, by truly loving his or her spouse. There is probably no husband or wife here who would say that is always easy to do. It may be easy most of the time, but there are times when it is probably difficult. That is the key. God asked all of us to accept our calling and react in a manner that mirrors the reaction of His Son, Jesus Christ. Remember, when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He initially reacted exactly the way many of us react, when we find ourselves in situations that we find difficult or uncomfortable.
We might think we never experience Christ’s dilemma, but when husbands and wives don’t agree, or when children do not want to obey their parents, or when we are tempted to sin against the commandments, we, too, face a difficult decision. Jesus responded to the possibility of His being crucified by moaning, “Let this cup pass from me, Father.”
Are any of you in that same situation right now? My spouse and I had a fight. My parents don’t understand me. My boyfriend wants me to get more deeply involved than we should. How we react to those situations determines whether we are truly answering God’s call to us. Why do I have to make these difficult decisions? Why do I have to think of God or other people? Why not just do what I want to do? These are questions we frequently ask ourselves. Paul was called to evangelize the world. Peter was called to martyrdom. They reacted positively to their calling and that is what each of us must do. We are expected to accept the conditions of our ordinary calling.
For us, answering the call, may be the courage to kiss one’s spouse and apologize. It may be realizing God has given your parents the responsibility to expect reasonable obedience from you. It also may be that you have the responsibility to tell your boyfriend or your friends, No.
This is one of the dimensions in the Synod on Synodality headed by Pope Francis. The third dimension is what we call, the Mission. Mission, because we are all called or we are all sent to evangelize and to witness God’s love to the world. The question is, Is that an easy thing to do? Not always. Do not forget that in Gethsemane, Jesus was terrified. He did not want to face the upcoming nightmare or trial, just as we often do not want to face any adversity in life. However, we should give the same answer to our God as Jesus gave to His Father: “Father, not my will, but Yours, be done.”
The men mentioned in our readings today faced many difficulties. At times they were under intense pressure. We may not be as famous as they are, but we walk the same walk that they walked. The pressures and the difficulties that we have are real.
As we face any difficulty in answering our call to follow God’s will, we should follow Christ’s example in the garden. We should turn to His Father in prayer, and He will answer us. He will give us the strength and courage to react in the same manner as did the men in today’s readings. Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” Paul said, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am and His grace to me has not been ineffective.” The reply of Peter, James, and John was eloquent. When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him. We should, too.