5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


This Sunday the readings talk about the call. We have the call of Isaiah and of the first disciples. Paul also refers to his calling. And certainly, there’s another one, though only implied; yours and mine.” writes Fr. Chama. “Let’s see then how the word of God confirms and encourages us.”

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Called, Cleansed and Commissioned

Claret Media Cameroon

The Bible presents us with wonderful “iconic vocation-stories”. God called Abraham and made him the father of all nations. The fearful and ‘slow tongued’ Moses was called by God to ask Pharaoh to liberate the Israelites. Young David was called and made King. He called the persecutor Saul to become the apostle to the gentiles with the name Paul etc. Last week we heard about the call of Jeremiah, and in the readings of this Sunday, we hear the vocation stories of Isaiah and the apostle Peter. Three things run through these vocation stories which can be resumed into the words: Called, Cleansed and Commissioned

God calls us every day to participate in his mission. It is a privilege for us that despite our unworthiness, God coopts us to share in his salvific word. In most cases we consider ourselves unworthy and try to disqualify ourselves. But when we are down to nothing, God is up to something. He calls us despite our weakness, he purifies and commissions us.

God calls us in various ways. In the case of Isaiah, it was a vision. Isaiah remembers exactly when it was–the year that King Uzziah died. He remembers what he saw: God on a throne seated in the Temple. The Apostles in the Gospel were called, this time not within a prayer environment, church or temple, but at their jobsites! They were doing their normal and daily works when God called.

God knows we are unclean; he knows we are unworthy so he himself cleanses us. This is almost typical of all calls! Moses did everything to reject the call because of his unworthiness to speak, same thing with Jeremiah because of his youthfulness. Isaiah says it in clear terms: “What a wretched state I am in! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips” …. Peter simply says, “I am a sinful man” …. When we get in contact with God, despite our uncleanliness, we are cleansed.

After cleansing us, God commissions us, this means he gives us a specific mission. To some it seems an IMPOSSIBLE one. Isaiah was given the difficult mission of telling people who believed they were God’s people that they had forsaken God and would suffer the consequences for their disobedience. The Apostles were given the mission of being fishers of men!

Today God continues to call us. We need to personally hear the powerful call of God and voluntarily respond to it. But God had to prepare Isaiah so that he would hear his call and respond to his mission. In the same vein, Christ prepared the twelve to be able to respond to his call. We also need to experience a portion of God’s preparation of Isaiah that we too might have ears to hear and a heart to respond to God.

Let’s use the following outline to look at how God prepared His servant to hear and positively respond to His call for ministry. Like Isaiah we must say HERE I AM SEND ME.


A Call to Advance into Deep Waters


The feeling of insufficiency is a common reaction we see among those who are called. God, despite his splendour and grandeur, addresses himself to a mere mortal man which makes Isaiah exclaim: “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!” It’s the same with Paul in the second reading, no doubt proud of his vocation, yet, he sees himself as “the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle” And Peter too says to Jesus: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”. This is not false humility; these men have experienced the unimaginable.


How We Can See God Face to Face



In this Sunday’s Readings, Isaiah says, “I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips,” yet “my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Peter falls down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

Both realize that they are sinners in the presence of someone who is utterly holy. Neither can bear the contact.

However, an angel brings Isaiah a live coal from the altar and says, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Jesus reassures Peter: “Do not be afraid.”


Open to Grace

 O.P. | 2016
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

The words that St. Luke records a kneeling Simon Peter as addressing to Jesus—“leave me alone”—don’t seem like an auspicious start for the one chosen to be leader among the apostles. But, as our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah reminds us, reluctance on the part of those chosen to be missionary prophets of the Lord is not a new thing (and the vocation stories of more than one Dominican suggest that it’s not limited to biblical times either). Within seconds, though, Simon is on his feet and has abandoned everything to follow Christ. What has happened?


“From now on it is people you will fish for”



After the Nazareth rejection, Luke gave a kind of summary of Jesus conducting his ministry alone around the rural districts and synagogues of Galilee. His initial impact on people had been one of great enthusiasm. Crowds flocked to hear him.

We then have today’s passage where Jesus enlists others to help him in his mission. Simon Peter, James and John leave everything and follow him.


Deep Water



When this gospel story comes around it often occasions a homily on vocations to ministry, following on Jesus’ telling Peter, James and John that they would no longer fish for fish but now for a catch of men, women and children to follow the path of Christ. But there’s another very important line earlier in this story which deserves our attention and which, in fact, is critical if we’re to understand the fishing image. And that’s when Jesus calls us to “Put out into deep water…”

Deep water is darker, more ominous and threatening. Deep water is farther away from the safety of the shore and the harbor. Deep water, simply on account of its dark depths, is more unknown, more mysterious, more impenetrable. Have you and I ever “put out into deep water?” Some here might be too young to have done so. Many of us, however, have known this experience.


Catching People


Here is where it is important to remember that the call and the ability to accomplish the call are both given together. If you have been called to be a parent or a grandparent, you can be sure that God has equipped you to share your faith with your children. Do not imagine that it is the responsibility of someone who works professionally in the church. Your call involves sharing what you believe, and God has equipped you to accomplish it. You can find your own way to tell your children, “This is what I believe”. “This is how I pray.” “I know God loves you.” Whenever we find ourselves dealing with a friend or someone at work who is in need or struggling grief or loss, whenever we find ourselves called to reconcile with someone who has hurt us, that call is an invitation to share what we believe. We should not be reluctant to include our faith in our approach to others. We can say to the person in need, “I believe that God is with you as you deal with this loss or this problem. I will pray for you, because I know God loves you.” We can say to the person with whom we seek reconciliation, “I come and ask for forgiveness not only because I believe it is right, but because I follow the teaching of Jesus.”

Two Approaches to Pain (2004)
Talking or Fishing (2010)
God is Not Kidding (2013)
From Transition to Call (2016)

The Call (2019)


An Extraordinary Catch



The Gospel text goes on to describe an extraordinary catch of fish at Jesus’ command. It happens in very unfavorable circumstances, after a night of catching nothing on the part of Peter and his companions. What looked like a hopeless situation turns into an amazing success story. But the point is deeper: under the care of the Lord the Church will flourish and many will find their home there. Peter, who will play a central role in the growth of the Christ’s Church, is told he will be a fisher of souls.

For Simon Peter, the first step toward partaking in the future mission of Jesus is a total surrender into the hands of the Lord. The Church will be continually called to imitate this whole-hearted surrender. “Do not be afraid,” is the message Jesus offers to Peter and that is our assurance as well. We may tend toward fear and flight at times or often, but are called to resist that and to really trust that God is with us, carrying us, leading us in love and gentleness. That should be comfort for one and all in the Church and for those pondering entrance into the barque (boat) of Peter, the Church.


“Put Out into the Deep Water”


This invitation and the questions are daunting and even frightening.  There are many voices in our world that continually encourage us to stay on the shore, to ignore the invitation to set out into the deep water.  This encouragement comes in a variety of forms: to live a distracted existence focused solely on self and ones own entertainment, to not question too deeply or to only question in an approved manner, to silence ones conscience and only live within the bubble of ones own ego.  These voices call to us continually – subtle and not so subtle.  They have a surface appeal but in the end they are deadening.

Our Lord invites Simon Peter (and us) to “put out into the deep water” exactly because he knows the depth of being that resides within every man and woman.  Christ will not let us sell ourselves short in contrast to the voices that encourage us to stay on the shore.  Our Lord knows that deep calls upon deep and that an isolated, self-absorbed existence is an impoverished existence.


Alone, I Can’t Do This, But I am Not Alone



This Sunday we are presented with Isaiah, Paul and Peter. All three are chosen by God. Each regrets that he is too human, and too sinful to fulfill God’s choice. But God makes up for what they lack. Isaiah says, “How can I, a man of unclean lips living among people of unclean lips, proclaim the Lord. Paul adds that he was called even though he had persecuted the Church. He is the very least of the apostles, but by the grace of God, still an apostle. Peter is quite aware of his humanity. He is a fisherman without out any education. He is stubborn. He is a bit of a braggart. He lack courage. But God still calls him and gives him the ability to be the greatest and first of the apostles.


Do Not Be Afraid of the Deep


Whether we find the serpent or the cross or both dwelling in the Deep, we must not be afraid. The serpent was defeated the moment he chose to rebel. Sin and death were crushed from eternity before the first human walked upright. So, we can meet the serpent without fear. We can also meet the cross without fear b/c it is through the cross that the serpent is defeated. When we put out into the Deep of the human heart and the human community, there is nothing there for us to fear. Our job is a simple one: fish. Cast nets with service, humility, mercy, and joy. Bait our hooks with all the gifts we have been given to use for the greater glory of God. Leave behind bitterness, resentment, jealousy, and wrath. Follow Christ in strength, persistence, faithfulness, gladness, and sacrifice. Leave behind worry, doubt, fear, and hostility. Follow Christ in thanksgiving, rejoicing, praise, and courage. Now is not the time for cowardice. Now is not the time for waffling or compromise. We have our orders: put out into the deep! Risk, challenge, venture out. Hold fast to Peter’s boat and cast your net wide and deep. Isaiah, Paul, and Peter made their excuses before God. He smiled and made them into prophets and preachers. So, go ahead: make your excuses. And watch God do His marvelous work through you.


Becoming Less Unworthy



Like it or not, we are all products of our particular culture and age. We carry in our lives the “DNA” of our locale, our families, and our lifestyle. Our background is inescapable, and it will always be with us in some way or another.

Some of our background influences have been good – Some have been not so good – or even very bad. Moreover, we carry with us the failures, the mistakes, the sins, and the crimes of our past – Because we have all done things which were wrong – – things which we later regret – – things we can do little to rectify.

But then there is an awakening. Somehow we see the truth about ourselves and our past. It is then that we understand that we are called to be different. We are called to make amends – to make up for what we have perpetrated. Moreover, we are called to do this in what is an unusual – and never before thought of – way!


God’s Initiative or Man’s Achievements



In one of his most provocative and insightful books, Truth and Tolerance, Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger, or Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as he was then known, defended the uniqueness of the Christian faith in the face of religious and cultural pluralism. At the beginning of his book, he tackles one of the most difficult questions posed by the presence of diverse religious beliefs and refutes the oft-repeated claim that all religions essentially affirm the same things. According to him, that apart from common and similar elements, there are actually fundamental, non-negotiable differences among religions.



HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

The moment we recognize our inadequacy, our sin, our smallness before the greatness of the transcendent God, we are capable of truly being called out of ourselves. When God is heard to say, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah responds, “Here I am. Send me.” He is empowered, not paralyzed.

Similarly, Christ’s manifestation of transcendent power was not for the sake of stirring human anxiety and fear. Christ wants to call us to a life mission far beyond the expectations of our constricted categories.

Human encounter with the transcendent God has always met with resistance. But the idea of a God wholly independent of our sway is especially repulsive to contemporary taste. After all, it requires a terrible admission of our insufficiency. It demands a recognition that we cannot rescue or save ourselves. It commands a yielding to, a humble listening for, an obeying of an other utterly beyond our mere human minds and wills.


Becoming a Brilliant Example of Jesus’ Love

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 1997

To bring about that purification we all need, we are given a description of love that is easy to measure. We are reminded that we can do marvelous deeds in the world, but if they are not done with love, they are hypocritical and destructive. St. Paul gives us some virtues to use as measuring points for loving. He uses the words patient, kind, not jealous, not quick-tempered, not pompous, not inflated and not rude. I don’t know about you, but trying to live up to that description of love will keep me busy for the rest of my life. St. Paul reminds us that it is time for us to grow up and act like the loving people we profess to be. It is time for us to quit rejoicing over other people’s failures and to start rejoicing in the truth — God’s truth, not our opinions.

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Year C Homilies for this Sunday

In the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine: Celebrant & Homilist: Rev. Lee Fangmeyer; Guest Choir: Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish Choir, Owings, MD

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