Cycle (C) 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Is. 6:1-2a, 3-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Lk. 5:1-11

The readings of today speak about three outstanding messengers who proved extraordinarily faithful to God in their work. Isiah, Paul and Peter.

In a vision, Isiah was given to see the glory of God dwelling in the Temple of Jerusalem. He heard the angels praising God. In his vision, Isiah saw how an angel took a live coal from the fire on the altar, and touched his lips with it. Isiah understood that by so doing, God was cleansing him of his sins, so as to render him fit to be his messenger. Strengthened by this act of God’s goodness, Isiah readily offered himself for the work God was calling him to: “Here I am, send me,”

Acts of the Apostles tells the story of Paul’s call. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed

around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"  “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

In a moment, Paul became aware of his utter spiritual misery. Momentarily he became blind. He allowed himself to be taken to the town.

The Gospel reading narrates the call of Peter. Andrew had brought Simon to Jesus at the Jordan river. John tells us that before Simon could utter a single word, “Jesus fixed his eyes on him and changed his name into Peter.

The responses of Isaiah, Paul and Peter were surprising. The prophet Isaiah viewed himself as a great sinner among sinners, and worthy of being in the Divine Presence of Yahweh.  Paul, still full of guilt for having persecuted the Christians, viewed himself as being unfit of being called an apostle.  And Peter begged Jesus to get away from him because he was a sinful man.

God responded to their feeling of sinfulness by cleansing them of their sins, and by reassuring them of his help at all times. Once reassured by God they went through their task humbly and courageously, enduring innumerable trials, always convinced that God would make up for their weakness.

Jack London wrote about another compelling call in his 1903 novel The Call of the Wild. Multiple film adaptations of the book follow the adventures of a dog, Buck, that is kidnapped and then brought north to Canada to be exploited as a sled dog. Buck is loyal and heeds the call of his final kind and trustworthy owner, John Thornton. But ultimately, Buck follows the call of his primordial instinct and learned experience as a sled dog to emerge as a leader in the wild among a pack of wolves. Calls are powerful in animals and humans. The most awesome call is the one from God.

Today, God is calling us to do His work, regardless of whatever setbacks we may have, to accomplish His intended mission. Follow the voice of Jesus’ calling and answer, “Here am I, oh Lord, use me in your service today.”

We can sometimes feel unworthy of the call from God, but that’s okay! When a person becomes keenly aware of his utter dependence on God, his unworthiness, and God’s infinite mercy, he is on a holy path to a greater intimacy with the source of his life. God called and continues to call some unworthy characters: King David, Mary Magdalene, the penitent thief at Our Lord’s Crucifixion. It gives us great confidence that we should accept the call of God. We are called by our baptism to follow the Lord, and we are purified, regularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.