5th Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: Serve the Lord in humility. Through his grace, great sinners have transformed into great witnesses. Are you prepared to be transformed?
In this week’s readings, we see how God uses imperfect beings to carry out his perfect Ministry.
In the First Reading, Isaiah had a vision where he came face to face with God. His first reaction was the recognition of his unworthiness: “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!” (verse 5) God then cleansed Isaiah of his sins and called Isaiah to be His witness and messenger. Think about this, Isaiah recognised his unworthiness, that he was not befitting to encounter God face to face due to the sins that he was carrying. Isaiah needed to be cleansed of his sin before he may face God. What about souls who are received into heaven upon death? Do they not carry sins that need to be cleansed too? The manner by which Isaiah is cleansed of his sins is significant – the seraphs put him through a temporary period of suffering by placing a piece of burning coal on his mouth (verse 6-7). The cleansing of Isaiah provides the Biblical basis for the Catholic belief of Purgatory – a state where heaven-bound souls are cleansed of all sins through a temporary period of suffering before coming into the presence of God.
The Second Reading gives us a glimpse of the dramatic transformation Paul underwent. Paul was a Pharisees who was once a merciless persecutor of Jesus’ followers. In the passage, Paul recalled how he was called to God’s services. Without reserve, Paul acknowledged his unworthiness: “For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (verse 9) Responding to God’s call post-transformation, Paul went on to become one of the greatest teachers and evangelists in Christian history.
The Gospel tells the story of Jesus calling Simon Peter. After tolling through the night, the best time for fishing, Simon and his companions caught nothing. At dawn, a less favourable time for fishing, Jesus performed a miracle. Simon and his fellow fishermen caught so many fishes that their nets began to break. On witnessing this, like Isaiah and Paul, Simon acknowledged his own unworthiness (verse 8). Note also the change in Simon’s disposition before and after his transformation. Before the miracle, Simon addressed Jesus as “Master” (verse 5), which is merely a respectful address. After the miracle Simon addressed Jesus as “Lord” (verse 8). Jesus responded by saying “from now on, you will be fisher of men.” Simon went on to become the leader of the Apostles and the first Pope of the Catholic Church.
Though they live in different times, Isaiah, Paul and Simon Peter share a common trait – in humility, they acknowledged their unworthiness; allowed the Lord to transform them; and answered the call of God. What inspiration! Like Isaiah, Paul and Simon Peter, we too are called to be witnesses of God. Isaiah, Paul and Simon Peter show us the first quality to be the servant of God – that of humility. Reflect upon this for a moment. When we serve God, do we acknowledge our sins and serve with humility? Do we exult ourselves rather than exult God? These readings challenge us to not only answer God’s calling, but to serve with humility. While we admit to our unworthiness, we should nevertheless not be deterred by it – great men like Isaiah, Paul and Simon Peter were all sinners as well. Instead, trust in the Lord and allow Jesus to do his wonders through us, as we have seen in the readings this week. As Jesus said, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God” (Luke 18:27).
This is our great calling; and we hear it at the end of every mass: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Amen.