5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
6th February 2022
Year C – Psalter week 1
In each of our three readings today, we hear of people being called by God, all of whom considered themselves unworthy – and yet their positive response to his call completely changes their lives. Isaiah is called by God to be a prophet, Paul was called to preach the Gospel to the very people he had been persecuting, and Simon Peter is called by Jesus as the first of his disciples. Each of them had a very specific and important role to play.
In many ways, all three were the most unexpected and unlikely people, but this just goes to show that all of us, whoever we are, also have a unique place and purpose in God’s plan.
I’m certain, that when Simon Peter allowed Jesus to get into his boat and then pushed him out from the shore to preach, that it was not the first time he had heard Jesus preach and he would have been aware of who Jesus was, but he never envisioned that ‘he’ would have a place in Jesus’ mission.
When he did acknowledge that Jesus was calling him, we read the quite dramatic statement that Simon Peter and the other fishermen ‘.. left everything and followed him’ certainly not something that I, or any of us here today would feel able to do – but it’s real meaning and symbolism is that they left behind anything that they originally thought would bring them happiness, such as success as fishermen and possessions, and they made a real change in their lives based on a commitment to now follow Jesus.
When we think about the miracle of the tremendous catch of fish, it is easy to see this as the primary event of the Gospel. It certainly was a miraculous event. What Jesus had asked them to do made no sense, especially to experienced fishermen which Jesus was not. They had in fact been fishing all night – which was the best time to fish, but without success so what chance did they have now during the day.
But the miracle itself was merely the backdrop to Jesus’ call to Simon Peter, and a symbol of what Jesus wanted him to do and what he was capable of, if he was to place his trust in Jesus. If Simon Peter, and the other future disciples continued to work on their own, doing what they thought would bring the best results, then their achievements would be nothing compared to what was possible by placing their trust in Jesus – regardless of what Jesus asked them to do.
At the sight of the miracle, Simon Peter immediately acknowledged his unworthiness asking the Lord to leave him, for he recognised himself as a sinful man. But fortunately for us all, God does not seek out followers who think themselves worthy, but all those who will listen for his call. And his call to Simon Peter that day and to any of the apostles or any of us, is not to any kind of service for himself but of service to others. Because God created us to know and love him, and we grow in knowledge and love of him through our love and care for others.
So, just as God called Isaiah in the first reading, Paul in the second and Simon Peter in the Gospel he calls all of us. Even though like them we also think of ourselves as unworthy or un-callable.
God has such a wonderful way of looking at us. He sees in us what we often cannot see in ourselves. He may be all powerful and all knowing, but he chooses to never holds a grudge or to hold onto our past.
All the apostles would have acknowledged that they had lived chequered and sinful lives, but that was more of a reason to follow Jesus’ call. For he called them, and he calls us, despite our past but most certainly because of our potential. He sees our strengths and what we can achieve with him, and not what ‘we’ perceive are our weaknesses or unworthiness.
We, like Simon Peter, need to be prepared to leave ‘our own’ fishing boats and nets behind, whatever they may be, so that we can make a real change in our lives.
God’s love and mercy, his plan and promise is not for the few or for specific people. We are all called in a special way.
That quality and sense of ‘deep fulfilment and happiness’ that we seek in our lives, is gained not by what is given to us or what we own, but by what is asked of us and what we do and our response to his daily call and encouragement to follow him.
‘Hear I am: send me’
Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
I preached what the others preach, abd you all believed
They left everything and followed him
Follow me, says the Lord,
and I will make you into fishers of men.