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Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Homily – The Fifth Sunday in the Ordinary Time (Year C)


First Reading - Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 137(138):1-5,7-8 ©
Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15
Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:19
The Gospel of Luke 5:1-11 ©
(NJB)


Be mindful of what the prophet teaches.

Always be mindful, move carefully through the symbols in the script.

Understand this, a host is an army. Using this rope the prophet does, what the prophets and the church have often done, he has depicted God, the creator of the universe, as the commander of an army, as a king clothed in glory.

This image of God is errant.

God is not a king, and God has no use for armies. God is the infinite and the eternal, the first source and center of all that is. God is the unmoved mover, the cause of causes, and all other powers, no matter how great they might be, may as well be nothing in comparison to the infinite.

God comes to us not as a king, but as a brother, the face of God is reflected in our mother’s, God is a friend and God pursues our friendship with love.

Now, be mindful of what the prophet teaches.

Listen to the prophet relate the story of his encounter with God, encountering God in a state of shame, but God loves him anyway, even though he is unclean, in his encounter with God, through God’s ministry he is healed.

Pay particular attention to how the healing is conducted, it is accomplished through fire, through a burning coal set against the mouth of the prophet, and the touch of fire comes as the grace of God.

The fire is a gift.

God’s fire is a purgative, the fire of God heals, and the result of the healing is that the prophet’s spirit is renewed, restored to the status of messenger, of servant and friend.

Remember the teaching of the prophet, whenever you read the sacred text, the fire of God, from beginning to end, the fire of God does not destroy, it healing and restorative.

So it is and so it will always be.

Remember this.

It is right to praise God; the creator of the universe.

Praise God’s mercy wherever you see it, be merciful on behalf of God, because God has no greater wish, than to see we Christians who aspire to be God’s servants, express the divine through love.

Trust in God; God who has no need glory, who leads us on the path to humility, as Jesus did, in Nazareth.

Remember this.

God made us free, do not expect God to take sides in our struggles with one another, or intervene in our affairs, any such hope is hubris, it is vanity, and it misses the mark.

Listen to how the teaching of the apostle is presented to the church. Be mindful of the inconsistencies, there are lessons to be learned in each and every one.

Know this.

The Gospel does not bring salvation (not in the ultimate sense), it does not bring salvation inasmuch as it announces it.

The formula of the good news is not: Believe so that you can be saved.

It is: Believe, have faith, you are saved already.

The salvation that the Gospel delivers is salvation that comes to us in this world, it is the fruit of living well, of living justly in communities that care for one another, as Jesus taught.

The Gospel is fulfilled in this world in communities that are bound by love and trust, and hope in both the promise and the gift that Jesus proclaimed and belong to those who have the courage to follow in his path.

For Jesus that path ended in death, it ended in his murder on the cross, but that was not the end of him; he continued, as we all will, he was raised from the dead, for death had no claim on him.

He defeated death and the powers of sin, and now death has no claim on us either. More importantly, it never did, because the work of Christ did not begin on the Cross, or with the resurrection, but before creation, in the beginning with the Word of God.

Jesus did not die so much “for our sins” but because of them, and he was raised in accordance with God’s plan, to bear witness to God’s love and mercy.

Be mindful, and do not hesitate to check the apostles and the saints and the doctors of the church when they are wrong, they are often wrong.

The apostle was wrong when he said that Jesus died for our sins.

As I have said, Jesus did not die for our sins, but because of them. He was buried and entered into eternity. When he appeared it was not first to Cephas and then the Twelve, it was first to his mother, and the other Mary’s who never left his side, even when all of the other disciples, including Cephas, betrayed him, denied him and fled.

Remember this, this is one example among many of the errancy of scripture; Paul, or whoever was posing as Paul, withheld the truth when they were writing this letter.

A Christian must always be a servant of the truth.

A Christian must always be careful not to confuse humility with pride, and it is easy to do for a believer, or anyone whose aim is piety.

When you here a Christian proclaim “I am the least,” what they often mean is, “I am the greatest.” They will say…”my work was not the greatest because the great work I did was really God’s. It was God was acting through me.” What they mean when they say this is that they will strike you down if you challenge them because their authority is the same as the authority of the creator, this is wrong.

This is dangerous thinking, but never far from the halls of power, in the church and everywhere.

Be mindful of the Gnostic implication at the beginning of this reading. They are a trap.

The author issues a claim to power and authority that is out of step with what they Church ultimately came to hold as true. It says that salvation is dependent on what a person believes, and this is a lie.

Salvation is dependent on the love of God and the love of God alone, a timeless love without condition, one that emanates from eternity and promises to make all things well..

The reading for today says that what we have been taught to believe comes in an unbroken line of authority, and that this is the benchmark of true doctrine. But this is false, there is no unbroken line of authority, there are only us sinners, doing our best to discern the will of God, and each of us failing in our special ways, some of us more than others.

Listen to the Gospel.

The greatest commandment is love, and love is the whole of the law.

To love one another, to give of one’s self to another, there is no greater gift.

The love that we are called to is not the love we call desire, though to desire and be desired is an experience of great joy.

The love that we are called to is not the love that we have for family and friends, though that love, which we experience as belonging is a source of great comfort.

We are called to move past the love we have for family and friends, because to love in that way is only a short extension of the love we have for ourselves. We are called to move past the love we call desire, and that love by which we see ourselves in the faces of our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, the love that connects our ambitions to the ambitions of our friends. We are called to love in a greater capacity than that.

We are called to love to the point of selflessness, to love even those who are against us, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have hurt us and done us harm, to feed the stranger and protect them…to do so out of love.

Remember this.

When you hear the call, and you have discerned that it is God who is calling you, then you must obey.

Consider the gospel reading for today; set aside the notion that Jesus used some magic powers, that he performed a miracle to fill the nets with fish, when earlier in the day there were no fish to be found.

This is not a story about fishing, and there is no such thing as magic.

Listen to the spirit of truth and you will know that this is true.

This is a story about moving beyond boundaries, reshaping context, exceeding expectations, and organizing the work of one’s partners in ministry.

In the first paragraph we see Jesus teaching in a crowded place. Does this mean that the crowds following Jesus were so great that they pushed him into a boat?

Possibly, that is a common reading…but consider for a moment that Jesus and his followers were preaching in a crowded field, in a place and time filled with many voices contending for the attention of the people, and that the ministry Jesus was concerned with was not an ordinary ministry. Jesus was actively involved in changing the expectations of the people, he did that skillfully by drawing them outside of their context, and this was illustrated dramatically by his stepping into a boat, leaving the shore and teaching from a place that was detached from the normal mode of living.

Jesus skillfully leads his closest followers into this new mode of teaching, as a result their efforts, which had earlier met with failure, were now manifestly successful. By going beyond their boundaries they were able to engage more people than they were able to minister to in their normal context. Because of their success, they in their turn needed to call for more support.

Their work required them to train more teachers.

In the final paragraph we here Simon-Peter asking Jesus for forgiveness on account of him being a sinful man.

It would not have been a sin for Simon-Peter to have been incredulous at the notion that Jesus would teach them a thing or two about fishing, if it was actual fishing that they were doing; because Simon-Peter was a fisherman, and the son of a fisherman, whereas Jesus was the son of a carpenter. This would not have been incredulous at all.

Be mindful.

Doubt is not a sin, especially when the expressed doubt is in regard to the expectation of a miracle or the workings of magic; that is not doubt, it is common sense.

When Simon-Peter was asking to be forgiven for his sins it was an acknowledgment that his former way of seeing things, of viewing people, of understanding relationships, was a mode of life rooted in fear, prejudice and privilege; that way of life was sinful, and Simon-Peter was right to seek forgiveness for that.

His desire to be forgiven was an acknowledgment of his previous failures, like Isaiah before him, who approached the divine reality in a spirit of shame, needing first to be healed before he could serve the divine as a messenger of salvation. His submission is an indication that he understood something of the new way that Jesus was leading him toward, and proof that he trusted Jesus in spite of his ignorance.



First Reading - Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8 ©

'Here I Am: Send Me'

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings.

And they cried out to one another in this way, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’

The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:

‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:

‘See now, this has touched your lips, your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’

I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 137(138):1-5,7-8 ©

Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart:
  you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I will bless you.
  I will adore before your holy temple.

Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love,
  which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
  you increased the strength of my soul.

Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

All earth’s kings shall thank you
  when they hear the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the Lord’s ways:
  ‘How great is the glory of the Lord!’

Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

You stretch out your hand and save me,
  your hand will do all things for me.
Your love, O Lord, is eternal,
  discard not the work of your hands.

Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord.


Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ©

I Preached What the Others Preach, and You All Believed

Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.
 
Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.

I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless. On the contrary, I, or rather the grace of God that is with me, have worked harder than any of the others; but what matters is that I preach what they preach, and this is what you all believed.


Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.

Alleluia!


Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:19

Alleluia, alleluia!

Follow me, says the Lord,
and I will make you into fishers of men.

Alleluia!


The Gospel of Luke 5:1-11 ©

They Left Everything and Followed Him

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

  When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

  When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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