The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
07 February 2019
In our Gospel reading, the people come to hear ‘the word of God’ (Lk 5:1). Only Peter and the crowd actually hear what this word is as it is not relayed to the reader. Luke instead describes what happens at the scene where everyone is gathered and his theme is discipleship.
Events unfold around the everyday task of fishing. In 5:6, the fishermen catch (Gr. συνέκλεισαν) fish, which literally means that the fish become enclosed or confined (within the nets), resulting in their deaths. Consequently, Luke (unlike Mark and Matthew) uses a different word (Gr. ζωγρῶν) later in the passage when Jesus tells Peter he will be catching ‘people’, meaning ‘capture alive’, or metaphorically, ‘winning people for God’s kingdom’. Paradoxically, this frees them from being ‘caught’ in this world.
In our first reading from Isaiah we have, what is considered to be, Isaiah’s commissioning by God. Like Peter, Isaiah is aware of his own limitation, of God’s presence in the powerful events happening around him (Is 6:5) and he, too, responds positively to a call (Is 6:8), a call that is implied regarding Peter in our Gospel text today (Lk 5:10-11) but is present in Mark 1:17 and Matthew 4:19. Seeing these texts in parallel, Isaiah reminds us of the heavenly realm at play in all aspects of life, providing a glimpse of the angelic hosts who call out to one another ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. His glory fills the whole earth.’ The impact of God’s presence leads Isaiah to say ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’ (Is. 6:5) Peter too witnesses something otherworldly in the miraculous catch of fish and his response is to speak of himself as a ‘sinner’. While Isaiah’s guilt ‘departs’ when an angel touches his lips with a ‘live coal’, there is no further reference Peter’s ‘sin’ (we’re not told why he considers himself a sinner) but he is told to not be afraid. Isaiah and Peter … two characters from two very different times in Biblical history … both aware of their own weakness, whether an awareness of ‘unclean lips’ or a ‘sinner’ having difficulty catching fish … both are called to make a difference in the lives of others.
Both Isaiah and Peter experienced something much greater than human experience, the greater power of God. Both of them, and each of us today in an even more different time and place, might find comfort in our Psalm, where we recognise the impact of the presence of God; ‘you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me’. (Psalm 138:7)
For Reflection and Discussion:  What might make it difficult for me to hear God’s call to reach out to others? How might I overcome these difficulties?  How do I support myself and others from being ‘caught’ by this world’s dynamics?
Bibliography: Friberg, Analytical Greek lexicon (Canada, 2005); Levine, Witherington, The Gospel of Luke (Cambridge, 2018); Levine and Brettler, The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford, 2011); Bible (NRSV); The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford, 2014)
"The crest allows us to identify the figure of the kneeling donor as Vincenzo Aschieri, who headed the Benedictine abbey of Novalesa (Turin) from 1398 and who died after 12 December 1452. The panels were painted by Giacomo Jaquerio, who was born in Turin and worked at the Court of Savoy, and became a leading name in the International Gothic style of Piedmont, France, and Switzerland. Courtly touches can be seen in the enamelled brilliancy of the colours, in the elegance of the lines, which are chased in the angel’s hair, and in the dreamy depiction of the pale pink castle against the ultramarine blue of the background"
Source: Google Arts & Culture
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