February 6 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are many popular fishing shows on television and cable – “Deadliest Catch” and “Wicked Tuna” just to name a couple. Many people enjoy fishing as a recreational hobby. Just ask Fr. James to show you a picture of himself and the fish he caught while on vacation in Florida. While fishing isn’t as widespread a career as it once was, “catching people” is a well-defined science. Otherwise known as advertising, this art form is designed to hook consumers and take their money, their time and their energy. Once caught, the consumers serve the advertisers’ goal. Everyone is together in one net. How many can’t resist the urge to get the latest upgrade of their wireless phone!
In today’s readings, Isiah, Peter and Paul demonstrate the moral character necessary to become “fishers of men (people).” These wise men of God are brought to their knees by an encounter with the Divine. Isaiah, Peter and Paul fish for people because God has first caught them. Divine light reveals their unworthiness, and they respond appropriately. “Woe is me,” exclaims Isaiah. “I am a man of unclean lips.” In the longer version of today’s second reading, Paul says that he is “the least of the apostles” and “unfit.” Peter tells Jesus to leave him, “for I am a sinful man.” But if you wish to be caught by God or to go fishing on God’s behalf, acknowledging your unworthiness is key. Once Isaiah has announced his unworthiness, his unclean lips are cleansed; his guilt and sin are blotted out. Once Peter is on his knees, he is ready to fish for people. St. Paul says it best: “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
Today’s readings invite us to become an advertisement for God. Unlike our glossy counterparts in the secular world, we shine from within. Hallowed out by unworthiness, we stand worthy. Our brightness has nothing to do with color or design, money or power. Our salvation history, our journey with the Divine attracts others. This is our calling.
Peter left everything and followed Jesus. We are to do the same. Having a relationship with the Divine is not reserved for prophets and saints. God wishes to connect with each of us. Our stories may not be as dramatic as the biblical ones recounted today, but each of us has a unique salvation history. Are we attentive to the way God moves in our lives? Do we recognize our unworthiness and thereby become worthy? Once caught and in communication with the Divine, we are each called to be a witness – an advertisement. Our response needs to be clear concise and certain. Five words suffice: “Here I am. Send me.”
Have a blessed week!