*5TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR, 10TH FEB., 2019
THEME: DIVINE PRESENCE AND GRACE IN HUMAN WEAKNESS*
(Is.6:1-2, 3-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Lk. 5:1-11)
Holiness is Godliness which is the opposite of sinfulness and hence only God can be called ‘holy’ in the full sense of the word. Is then not a surprise that the angels in heaven adore Him calling him, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts (Is 6:3). None of us is as spotless as a spring flower. Those who think that they have no fault, hardly have friend in the world. In the readings of today, see how Isaiah calls himself “a man of unclean lips (Is. 6:5). See how St. Paul claims to be the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9), and see how St. Peter protests to Jesus that he is a sinful man (Lk. 5:8). Hence we too must acknowledge our sins.
Isaiah in the first reading expressed unworthiness by saying: I am a man of unclean lips and I live among people of unclean lips. Yet with my eyes, I have seen the Lord. God reassured him by touching his lips with the live coal, indicating the forgiveness of his sins and the purging of his iniquities. This act prepared him for his mission as a prophet of God to the people of Israel.
In narrating the story of his conversion, St. Paul in the second reading expressed unworthiness by saying that he is not fit to be an apostle because he persecuted the church of God. His reassurance is in the grace of God. This grace of God changed Paul from a persecutor to a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus. This grace of God sustained him in the ministry. The story of his life, which he joyfully narrates, becomes a testimony of the grace of God an extravagant grace.
In the gospel Peter exclaimed to Jesus, Go away from me. I am a sinner. Jesus reassured him by saying, “Do not be afraid. From now you will become a fisher of human beings”. Each of them had something that made them unworthy to be called. You will also find other similar stories. Moses had speech deficiency. David was too young. Jeremiah was a child. But God made use of them to bring about great things.
The call narratives of these great biblical figures are to show us that God’s ways differ from ours. It is an encouragement for us as we feel unworthy of working for God. The grace of God is sufficient. What is it that makes you feel that you cannot be an instrument in the hands of God? Is it your sinful past, your nature or your poor background? Is it because you are not well educated? Is it because you have a bad reputation or you have made many mistakes in life? The grace of God is sufficient for you in the midst of all these factors that make us feel deficient and unworthy.
Isaiah with his unclean lips was used to give the prophecy of the Immanuel. Peter was a fisher man but his homily on Pentecost converted thousands of people. Paul was a persecutor of the church, but no biblical figure worked more than him in promoting the faith through letters, journeys, preaching, establishment of churches, etc. Yes, we are not worthy but we are called. Do not dwell on your past. Allow the grace of God to transform you. God can accomplish great things through you. The only thing we need is to be attentive to the voice of God and to follow his direction, just as Peter and his companions did. We are not perfect. That is why we rely on the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.
*JOKE: A MONK AND THE SCORPION*
A certain monk was praying under a tree beside a river. As he prayed, the tide was coming and the river was rising. Then he noticed a scorpion at the foot of the tree struggling for dear life as the surging waves tried to drown it. The monk stretched out his hand to pull the scorpion to safety but each time his hand came near, the scorpion tried to sting him. A passerby saw what was going on and said to the monk: “What are you doing? Don’t you know that it is in the nature of a scorpion to sting?” “Yes” replied the monk, “And it is my nature to save. Must I change my nature because the scorpion refuses to change its nature?