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Father Muench Says...

Considering the ‘call narratives’

February 9, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to share with you my homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It’s based on the three Scripture readings read at that Mass. They are what we designate as “call narratives.” These readings describe God’s call of Isaiah, God’s call of St. Paul, God’s call of St. Peter. Each of their calls helps us understand our own all from God. These call narratives are very fundamental to the spread of our Catholic faith during the foundation of the Catholic Community.

In this Sunday’s first reading, Isaiah tells how God called him to announce the coming of the Messiah This was nearly 800 years before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah speaks of a divine vision of the angelic choir. This vision disturbs Isaiah. He feels unworthy and anxious “to have seen the Lord of Lords.”

However, God recognizes something worthy in Isaiah, so God sends a seraphim to touch his lips with a burning ember from the heavenly altar and saying “your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” In faith, we believe God continues to forgive. He forgives us now and frees us from our sins.

Isaiah tells us that God asks, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah is the one who is filled with courage and faith, and he speaks out, “Here I am, send me.” In our time, each time you and I go to Mass, the Lord asks again, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Today, will there be anyone who will answer like Isaiah – “Here I am, send me”?

The second reading is from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. St. Paul describes to us of his call from God. He reminds the Corinthians of his teaching. He shared with them what he had learned: that Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised to new life on the third day. Christ appeared to many, and Paul tells us that Christ appeared to him. Yet, Paul humbly admits that he is the least of the apostles, not fit to be considered an apostle because he persecuted the Church.

However, Paul’s life was transformed by the grace of God. “His grace to me has not been ineffective.” That grace of God gave him the power to minister to the Lord. The forgiving grace of God has given each one of us today to wisdom and power to make this world a better place. Have we, like Paul, followed the Lord’s lead and grace to bring the word of the Lord to this world.

Finally, the Gospel reading of this Mass is the story of the call of St. Peter. Jesus is teaching at the Lake of Gennesaret, and as he often did, he climbs aboard Peter’s boat and continues to teach the people who are on the shore. When he finishes, he shouts to Peter to go out into deep water and fish. Peter, the skilled fisherman, knows this is not a good time for fishing. He has worked all night and has come up empty. He certainly doubts Jesus’ wisdom, but he is loyal to the Lord, so he heads out.

As you remember, they catch a great number of fish. Somehow Jesus, though not a fisherman, figures things out. Peter is humbled. He says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Peter believes that there is no place for him with Jesus’ community. However, Jesus knows that Peter has all the qualities that he expects in his apostles. Jesus supports and calls Peter. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

Today, the Lord continues to surprise many of us, calling us to be his apostles, to be the wise and powerful disciples who will make our Church alive and strong. Jesus reaches out and calls us. Jesus lets us know that he truly needs us and wants us to be his apostles.

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