SR-2019-02-10

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C) – February 10, 2019



5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: Acceptance of God’s Calling.

There is a clear theme of vocation in all three of today’s readings. Notice how Isaiah, Paul and Peter all feel unworthy to be chosen by God to be His agents in the world. (“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Matthew 8:8)

“lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Holy Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)

Many people are anxious to discover their calling from God, but when “calling” is used in the New Testament, it almost always refers to our calling as believers not our calling to a specific ministry. Ultimately, our “calling” is to love God, love others, obey God, and take care of others. If we concentrate on fulfilling these responsibilities He’s given us now, God will take care of helping us make our unique impact on the world. (gotquestions.org)

St. Ignatius of Loyola – Discerning whether our “calling” is from the good spirit (the influence of God, the Church, one’s soul) or the bad spirit (the influence of Satan, the world, the flesh) requires calm, rational reflection. The good spirit brings us to peaceful, joyful decisions. The bad spirit often brings us to make quick, emotional, conflicted decisions. A spiritual director can assist us by personal experience, listening with care, and giving an objective analysis.


Reading 1 – Isaiah 6:1-2a,3-8     God’s call of Isaiah.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 138:1-5,7-8    A song of thanks to God who saves us.

Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 15:1-11     God’s call of Paul.

Gospel Luke 5:1-11    God’s call of Peter.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Isaiah 6:1-2a,3-8                    (God’s Call of Isaiah)                      

Context – The keynote of the Book of Isaiah is salvation (Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves”). He was the prophet of the southern kingdom, Judah, and lived at the time (ie. 742 – 687 BC) when the northern kingdom, Israel, whose capital was Jerusalem, was destroyed. At this time all that was left of the old kingdom of David was Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. He prophesized for 64 years. He prophesized doom for a sinful Judah and Israel and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. Then, he prophesized God’s restoration of the nation of Israel, including Judah, and this is interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Christ. After the Psalms, Isaiah is the Old Testament book most quoted in the New Testament.

Today’s Reading – Isaiah shares with us how God calls him, in a vision, to the prophetic ministry while he was worshiping in a liturgical celebration in the Temple. We notice three movements: 1) the theophany (God’s appearance to Isaiah); 2) Isaiah’s purification; and 3) his ‘Yes’ to God’s call.


In the year King Uzziah died, [i] I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of His garment filling the temple [ii]. Seraphim [iii] were stationed above.

They cried one to the other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with His glory!” At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke [iv].

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” [v] Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar [vi].

He touched my mouth with it, and said, “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for Us? [vii]
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Responsorial Psalm –     Psalm 138:1-5,7-8                        (Gratitude to God)

David thanked the Lord for His loyal love and faithfulness in answering his prayers. He hoped that everyone would acknowledge God’s goodness and experience His deliverance. This psalm is a very appropriate response for us every time we have experienced the awesome graces from God.


R. – In the sight of the angels I will sing Your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to You, O LORD, with all my heart, for You have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels
[viii] I will sing Your praise; I will worship at Your holy temple [ix] and give thanks to Your name.
R. – In the sight of the angels I will sing Your praises, Lord.
Because of Your kindness and Your truth; for You have made great above all things Your name and Your promise. When I called, You answered me; You built up strength within me.
R. – In the sight of the angels I will sing Your praises, Lord.
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to You, O LORD, when they hear the words of Your mouth; and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD: “Great is the glory of the LORD.”
R. – In the sight of the angels I will sing Your praises, Lord.
Your right hand saves me. The LORD will complete what He has done for me; Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
[x] forsake not the work of Your hands [xi].
R. – In the sight of the angels I will sing Your praises, Lord.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Reading 2     1 Corinthians 15:1-11              (God’s Call of Paul)             

Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after the establishment of this Church, trouble arose including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. Paul’s pastoral guidance was needed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness. His second letter to the Corinthians was written to prevent them from falling prey to false prophets.    

Today’s Reading – Paul reassures his readers that the Good News he shares with them is not his own creation but rather a message received from Christ Himself who died and has risen. His Resurrection was testified by many. Just like Isaiah in the Reading 1 and Peter in the Gospel, Paul testifies to his own unworthiness to preach the Gospel. Yet, unworthy though he is, God calls him. Paul especially challenges the Corinthians (many of whom at this time denied the resurrection) to accept Jesus’ Resurrection, not as someone’s nice idea, but as a verifiable historical fact.


I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the Word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins [xii] in accordance with the Scriptures (Isaiah 53: 5-12); that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (Exodus 10: 21-23 and the story of Jonah); that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve. After that, Christ appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally [xiii], He appeared to me [xiv]. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me. Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.  


Gospel     Luke 5:1-11                       (God’s Call of Peter)

Context – Luke was a physician and a follower of Paul. His Gospel was written in 59-61 AD and he also wrote the Book of Acts. Luke’s gospel includes Jesus words and works in Galilee, His journey to Jerusalem, and His last week in Jerusalem. For later chapters of Luke: Jesus is now in Jerusalem for His passion; He has made His triumphal entry which we celebrate on Passion (Palm) Sunday; He has upset the establishment by cleansing the temple. The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees are all now interested in getting rid of Him. He identifies three epochs of salvation history: the time before Christ, the time of Christ, and the time of the Church and the Holy Spirit. And the two primary themes of his Gospel are: the Christian faith is expressed in one’s actions, and the call to salvation is extended to everyone, Jews and Gentiles. The emblem for St. Luke was given the symbol of an ox (a sacrificial animal) because he speaks of Christ most of all as the Great High Priest who brought Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (“the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”). St. Luke died a martyr’s death in Achaia (Greece).

Today’s Reading – Isaiah experiences God in the Temple; Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus; and Peter (plus Andrew, James and John) encounters Jesus at his place of work. Prior to the event described in this reading, Jesus went to Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law, healed many others, and cast out demons for some.
In today’s reading, Jesus’ presence in Peter’s boat symbolizes His presence in and with the Church. Peter’s lack of success at catching fish symbolizes the “futileness” of pastoral ministry without the presence and power of God. Discouragement is part and parcel of life, but we must not let it get us down. We must keep “throwing out the net.” In this Gospel, Jesus is calling to Himself disciples (our Priests) who will in turn “catch” others (us) for Christ by the “bait” of God’s Word – His “calling”.


While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee). He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, [xv] He asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then He sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” [xvi] Simon said in reply, “Master (Rabbi), we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord [xvii], for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him. [xviii]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         When called by God, Isaiah said “I am a man of unclean lips.” And Peter said “I am a sinful man”. So, both of them knew right from wrong and both of them knew that their life style “missed the mark”. Does this help verify that God gives us a basic conscience at birth?
Monsignor Charles Pope (NCR journalist) writes – “I think that our fundamental conscience, a sense of basic right and wrong, is innate. That is to say, it is something with which we come equipped, rather than something we learn from social convention. As a believer, I would argue that this basic moral sense, our conscience, is explained by the fact that God has written his law upon our hearts.”

Catechism 208 – Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, we discover our own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” But because God is holy, He can forgive the person who realizes that they are a sinner before Him: “I will not execute My fierce anger. . . for I am God and not human, the Holy One in your midst.” The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. . . reassure our hearts before Him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”


[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
In the year King Uzziah died” = King Uzziah died in 742 B.C. after a reign of over 40 years. His death brought to an end a period of great prosperity and security.
[ii] “the temple” = This Temple is in Jerusalem, built by Solomon 200 years earlier and destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.; 155 years after this vision of Isaiah.
[iii]  “Seraphim” = The hierarchy of angels are defined as follows: At the top are Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, associated with the specific functions of love, knowledge, and power. In the middle are Dominations, Virtues, and Powers, associated with the universal governance of creation. And the lower hierarchy consists of Principalities, Archangels, and Angels, concerned with the direct administration of creatures in the world (CCC 328). Plus, each of us are assigned a Guardian Angel at our birth (CCC336). Every day we should pray The Guardian Angel Prayer: “Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to Whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”
[iv]   “smoke” = A sign of divine presence, the smoke is the same “glory cloud” which filled the tabernacle during the wandering in the desert, at Mt Sinai at the giving of the Ten Commandments, at the baptism of Jesus, and at Jesus’ Transfiguration.
[v]  “Lord of hosts” = A common Old Testament name for God. It also means Lord of armies or God of battles – referring to God’s leadership of His people in war (1 Sam 1:3).
[vi]  “an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar” = St. Basil calls this “amber” the “Word of God”.
[vii] God says: “Who will go for Us?” = Hence arises a proof of the plurality of persons in heaven, i.e. the members of Trinity, and/or the angels.
[viii] Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“pray “in the presence of the angels” = Making our petitions to God in the presence of the angels helps us with being confident that God will hear our prayers since the angels will be advocates for us with God. In Reading 1, the angels (a Seraphm) ministered unto Isaiah.
[ix]   “I shall worship at your holy Temple” = Other translations state: “I bow down toward Your holy Temple” = The Jews worshiped this way when they were at a distance from the temple in Jerusalem; as with the Muslims who bow toward Mecca when worshiping.”
[x]  “Your right hand saves me. The LORD will complete what He has done for me; Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;” = An expression of faith.
[xi]   “the work of Your hands” = The work of God’s hands includes rescuing us from the oppression of our temporal (human) and spiritual (demonic) enemies.
[xii]   Reading 2 Footnotes:
“Christ died for our sins”
= His death was the sin offering (a sacrifice by His passion (suffering) made in atonement to God for all of our sins) which opened heaven and set forth the process for our sins to be forgiven and forgotten. From the time of the golden calf until the crucifixion of Jesus, offerings were made repeatedly but sins were not forgotten. The offerings were ineffectual because the sin of the golden calf had not been forgotten. Jesus’ sacrifice rectified this. Atonement is the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general and original sin in particular through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, enabling the reconciliation between God and His creation.
[xiii]   “the one born abnormally” = Some assume that Paul is referring here to the separation in time between the original 12 Apostles’ introduction to Jesus versus his introduction to Him at a later time. Others assume that Paul means by this that he acted as “an object of horror and disgust” (an abnormal person) because of his past persecution of the Church, calling himself “the monster of the apostolic family.”
[xiv]  “He appeared to me” = This is a reference to Paul’s “apostolic calling” by God, a “come to Jesus moment”. Paul received the facts about Christianity from the Apostles and others but the import of the facts was made known to him by Christ when He “called” him to his vocation while Paul was on the road to Damascus.
[xv] Gospel Footnotes:
“Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon” = Why is it mentioned that there were two ships; that one of them was Simon Peter’s, that Christ went into that one, and sat down in it, and sitting He taught out of that ship? No doubt, answer many of the ancient commentators, to show that the Church was figured by the bark/barque/barc (i.e. ship) of Peter, and that in it is the chair of Christ, a permanent authority, prefigured by Christ’s sitting down, and the true word of God.
[xvi]   Jesus asks Peter to go back out to sea to fish even though Peter had just completed his fishing routine (but he was unsuccessful in catching anything) for the day. – “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” = The message is: Where you failed without Christ (Peter’s first time out), with Christ (second time out) you will prove successful. Now is the proper time, when you act in My presence, and according to My orders; before it was not, when you followed your own, and not My will. We all must remain with Christ and live according to His will for us. Peter was very successful in catching much fish this second time out – this event proved that the obedience (faith is obedient belief) and confidence (trust and hope) of Peter were not in vain. Nor will it be in vain for us if we follow Jesus.
[xvii]  Peter says – “Depart from me Lord” = The change from Peter calling Jesus “Master/Rabbi” to calling Him “Lord” reflects Peter’s recognition of Jesus human and divine natures. Likewise, previous to this, when Peter followed Jesus’ direction to go back out and fish again – “but at Your command I will lower the nets” = Why would Peter, a master fisherman, follow the advice of Jesus, not known for His fishing prowess? Well, as mentioned in the introduction to this Gospel reading, prior to this event, Peter watched as Jesus healed his mother-in-law. So, Peter knew first-hand that Jesus was not just a mere mortal and he knew it would be well worth his advantage to “listen to Him”. Sound familiar? God said this to those who later experienced Jesus’ transfiguration – “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is My chosen Son; listen to Him.” (Luke 9:35) – so should we!  
[xviii]  “they left everything and followed Him” = Followers of Jesus are not members of the crowd but walk in His footsteps. They live the life which Jesus sets as the example.