Sunday, 6 February 2022 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are called to realise our calling and mission in life as Christians, as those whom God has called and chosen, to be the ones to carry out His will and to be the witnesses of His truth and love to all the people. As we heard from today’s Scripture readings, we are all called to follow in the footsteps of our courageous and faithful predecessors, those who have dedicated themselves and their lives to serve the Lord, to follow Him and to do their best for the greater glory of God.

In our first reading today, we heard the calling of the prophet Isaiah in a vision which he received, and in that vision he saw the Lord Himself seated on His Throne in Heaven, attended by the great Angels of God, the Seraphim who served the Lord at His presence. He saw all the great glory and majesty of God and was terrified at what he had seen. He was struck with great fear because not only that one ought not to look at the great glory of God, and as a sinner, Isaiah feared God’s wrath and retribution. He humbled himself and abased himself before the Lord.

But God reassured Isaiah and sent His Seraphim to bring the hot coal from the Altar of the heavenly Temple and touched that coal onto Isaiah’s mouth, his lips and tongue. Through that symbolic act, God sanctified and purified Isaiah, considering him worthy of seeing His glory and being there, and through that, God also reassured him and sent him to be the one that He had chosen to be the bearer of His truth and message, His Good News to the people of Israel. Isaiah answered firmly with faith, and henceforth, he did the works of the Lord wonderfully among His people.

In our Gospel passage today, we kind of see a similar story in which the Lord Jesus came to the Lake of Galilee and encountered the fishermen there who were busy with their works and among them were the brothers Simon and Andrew, as well as the two sons of Zebedee, James and John. It was this moment, which is also mentioned in the other Gospels, that the Lord called His first disciples, and those four would become four of His closest confidants, the Twelve Apostles. At that time, they were just simple fishermen at the Lake of Galilee.

Having gathered little or no fish despite a great effort over the night, they would not have hoped to gain much and they must have been disappointed. But the Lord Who was then teaching the people told them all to go again and gather the fishes, this time to put their nets just as He told them to. Simon was hesitant at first saying how their efforts all night long had borne little results, but he obeyed nonetheless, going forth into the deeper waters just as the Lord had told him to, and true enough, immediately they caught so many fishes that it almost sank the two boats they were on.

We heard how Simon and the other fishermen all bowed down before the Lord and especially Simon uttered how unworthy he was before the Lord, and how he was a sinner that was unworthy and not deserving of the Lord’s presence. But this did not stop the Lord from calling them to be His disciples, and in fact to be the closest ones to Him. He called them all to become the fishers of men, as those whom the Lord had chosen to be the ones to gather all the people to Himself. Through them, God would establish His Church and build the many Christian communities all around the world.

We can see the parallel in these two stories, and also in our second reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. In that occasion, St. Paul mentioned to the faithful in Corinth how he himself had received the faith, as he received it through the Holy Spirit that he had been given, and through the hands of the Apostles, those same Apostles that God had called, and from them, St. Paul, who as Saul was once the greatest enemy of all Christians, gained great insight of the faith and of what he had been called to do, as fellow disciples of the Lord.

Therefore, today’s Scripture readings serve as very important reminders for each and every one of us that all of us have been called to follow the Lord and to be His disciples. All of us as Christians who have received and shared in the baptism, and having been initiated in the faith, all of us have a share in the mission that the Lord Himself has entrusted to His Church, to all of His Apostles and disciples. And yes, the same mission that God has given to His Church, we too have a part to play in that as well.

And what is this mission, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we recall in the Gospels, we will remember the Lord’s Great Commission to all the whole Church. He entrusted it to all of us to make disciples of all the nations and to baptise all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the mission that God has given and entrusted to us, and we should embrace this mission wholeheartedly and be inspired by the examples set by our holy predecessors, those whom God had called and chosen, and whom He had made worthy for that purpose.

It means that we should not be hesitant or worried that we are not qualified, capable or worthy of doing what the Lord had called us to do. We have to remember first and foremost that it is not us who decide whether we are worthy of God’s calling and works or not. It is God Himself Who will decide that, and He had frequently chosen His disciples and servants from among those whom many of us may consider or deem to be less than worthy. The four fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James and John for example, they were likely poor, illiterate and uneducated, and yet, God called them to do His great works.

Through many occasions in the history of the Church and the world, God had chosen those who were considered to be unworthy. He made them worthy and sent them forth, reassuring them of His guidance and strength, much as how He had sent out Isaiah to His people Israel. The same went for the Apostles themselves as mentioned, as well as for St. Paul mentioned in our second reading today, who was a great persecutor of Christians, as someone most unlikely to become a follower of Christ, and yet, in the end, became among the Lord’s greatest champion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to ponder carefully on our lives, and discern what we are going to do with our lives to come. God has called on us to follow Him and to do His will, to be part of the efforts and works of His Church in proclaiming His Good News and salvation, His truth and love to more and more people all around the world. This is what we have been called to do, and we really should ask ourselves if we are willing and able to do what we can to serve the Lord to the best of our abilities.

We do not need to be afraid or to worry whether we are worthy of such a task. The Apostles themselves as I mentioned were simple, ordinary people, who were most likely even less educated and less worthy than us in the eyes of the world. And yet, we all know of the great deeds that they had done, of the great courage and faith that they had shown, in doing their best to serve the Lord, even to the point of laying down their lives for the Lord, in the midst of their ministry. Many of them suffered greatly for the Lord, but they took all those sufferings with fullness of faith and love for the Lord.

Let us all therefore be inspired by their examples, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we too may walk in their footsteps and doing whatever we can to glorify the Lord by our lives. Let our every actions, words and deeds be guided by our love for the Lord and let our every breath proclaim the glory of God from now on. May the Lord be with us all, and may all of us walk in His path with ever greater zeal and commitment, now and always. Amen.

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