5th Sunday in Ordinary
Time – Cycle C
Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this
discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that
1st Reading - Isaiah
Last week we heard Jeremiah’s call to prophetic office which
was in the form of a dialog between Yahweh and Jeremiah.
Today’s reading describes Isaiah’s call to
prophetic office in 742 B.C., 116 years before Jeremiah’s
Isaiah, according to Jewish tradition, was of royal stock. It is
certain that he belongs to the tribe of Judah and that his home was in
Jerusalem. Unlike Jeremiah, who was celibate, Isaiah was married and
had two sons.
From the time of his calling, Isaiah’s whole life was devoted
to the “Lord Yahweh.” The Lord had called him and
henceforth Isaiah was His servant. There was only one law in the world
for him – the will of Yahweh. Yahweh is the “holy
one,” the Almighty, whose glory fills heaven and earth, who
made the world according to His plan, and governs and directs it
according to His will. He “works all things,” even
when His works appear strange and unintelligible to man. The name
Isaiah means “Yahweh is salvation.”
Jeremiah’s call to office was in the form of a dialog between
Yahweh and Jeremiah; Isaiah’s is a majestic vision.
6:1 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. Assyria
once again set out on the path of conquest. During Isaiah’s
lifetime Assyria would occupy the Northern Kingdom and invade Judah. It
is possible that Uzziah is mentioned here to point out man’s
mentality and how temporary our well being is in comparison to
God’s eternal glory.
I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,
Yahweh is depicted as a king.
with the train of his garment filling the temple.
The Temple in Jerusalem, built by Solomon 200 years earlier and
destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.; 155 years after this vision.
2a Seraphim were stationed above.
The name “seraphim” means “the burning
ones.” They are angels of the highest rank of the nine choirs
of angels; the ones closest to God and His fiery love. Omitted from our
reading today is Isaiah’s description of these seraphim:
“each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces
[Out of reverence (Exodus 3:6; 1 Kings 19:13)], with two they veiled
their feet [a euphemism for sexual parts], and with two they hovered
3 “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!” they
cried one to the other.
The Hebrew language has no modifiers, the word is repeated to achieve
this effect. “holy, holy, holy” equals
“holy, holier, holiest.” In the opinion of many
scholars, the Hebrew root has the basic meaning of separate, not
dependent on others. In Old Testament usage holiness is primarily
neither a physical nor a moral quality but an attribute which combines
“All the earth
This king, God, is not a national king like Uzziah; His kingdom is the
is filled with his glory!”
Glory is importance, power, might. The earth was created by His glory.
4 At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house
was filled with smoke.
A sign of divine presence, the smoke is the same “glory
cloud” which filled the tabernacle during the wandering in
the desert (Exodus 40:34).
5 Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!
Could a man see God and live? Exodus 33:20 says “but my face
you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives.” Isaiah
was overwhelmed by a sense of his own unworthiness, especially since he
was one with a sinful people. This whole verse gets its force from the
unalterable opposition between God and sin.
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!” 6 Then
one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken
with tongs from the altar. 7 He touched my mouth with it.
“See,” he said, “now that this has
touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin
This symbolic act of purification was the result of God’s,
not man’s initiative.
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I
send? Who will go for us?”
The context supposes that a session of Yahweh’s council has
just concluded (see 1 Kings 22:19-23). A messenger is sought to carry
news of the decision which has been made. The Hebrews conceived of
Yahweh enthroned above the firmament and holding court with his
heavenly advisors (angels). In this scene, the seraphim are members of
the assembly who are consulted about the decrees concerning the
government of the world. However, they do not make the decisions; their
function is to adore. Yahweh’s decision is final and
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”
Isaiah is eager to serve God.
2nd Reading - 1
For the past two weeks we have heard the Christian community (the
Church) compared to the human body and we have heard of the gifts of
the Holy Spirit. In both instances it was made clear that no one
individual or gift is more important than another as all are there to
serve the common good. However, of the theological virtues of faith,
hope and love, love (charity) is the most important and all can possess
it. Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, which we skip over to get to
today’s reading, talks about the relative value of the gifts
of prophecy, tongues, interpreting tongues, etc., and ends with the
direction that the gifts are to be used for the edification of the
As we learned three weeks ago (2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C),
Paul wrote this letter to answer things which were worrying the
Corinthians. Today he treats the subject of the resurrection of the
body. A characteristic Greek and Platonic concept was that the body was
a hindrance to the soul’s activity. St. Paul answers this
question by declaring that the bodily resurrection of Christ is a fact
duly attested to by chosen witnesses.
15:1 Now I am reminding you, brothers [and sisters],
The job of the Church is to remind us of the truths of our faith.
of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which
you also stand.
The basis of Paul’s response is the church’s belief
in the resurrection of Jesus. Since He really rose from the dead,
resurrection is no longer a theory but a demonstrated fact.
2 Through it you are also being saved,
An ongoing process. The theme of 1st Corinthians is that salvation
comes through the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18).
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in
Not as you want to understand it, but as it was preached. This is why
tradition is so important; to see how the understanding has always
“The Corinthians did not need to learn the doctrine, which
they already knew, but they had to be reminded of it and corrected from
their errors in understanding it.” [Saint John Chrysostom
(ca. A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 38,2]
3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
His death was the sin offering which opened heaven and allowed 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.
in accordance with the scriptures;
The interpretation of Jesus’ death in terms of Isaiah 53:5
may go back to Jesus Himself (see also Luke 20:37; Acts 8:32-35; 1
“How could Christ have died for sinners if He Himself were in
sin? Anyone who would die on behalf of sinners ought himself be without
sin; because if he too does commit sin, how shall he die for other
sinners? And if Christ died for the sins of others, He died without
having been a sinner Himself.” [Saint John Chrysostom (ca.
A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 38,2]
4 that he was buried;
This guarantees the reality of His death.
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures;
For the resurrection, the Apostles appealed to Psalm 16:8-11 (see Acts
2:25-28; 13:34-35). Perhaps Paul also has in mind Jonah 2:1 (Matthew
12:39-40) and/or Hosea 6:2. Jewish tradition considered the third day
to be the day of salvation (Genesis 22:4-5). Also, God completes
forming the world on the third day (Genesis 1:13) and filling it on the
sixth (the second “third”) day (Genesis 1:31).
What we have here in verses 3 and 4, called by St. Paul “the
gospel” (good news) is the creed of the Church:
• Christ died for us.
• He was buried.
• He rose on the third day.
5 that he appeared
This description shows that the appearance was on the initiative of
Jesus and not a chance sighting by those named.
to Kephas, then to the Twelve.
The order of appearance is first to the Chief Apostle, then the 12
Apostles (the chosen witnesses), then to 500 brothers. Paul omits the
apparitions to the holy women, mentioning only those persons which
Jewish law would accept as responsible witnesses.
“Evidently Matthias was chosen to replace Judas before Jesus
ceased appearing to the disciples after His resurrection.”
[Origin (after A.D. 244), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4,77]
6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living,
This means that they are available for questioning.
though some have fallen asleep. 7 After that he appeared to James,
The appearance to James is not in the Gospels but is in the apocryphal
Gospel According To The Hebrews.
then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
Literally “an aborted fetus”; when applied to an
adult, the word has a secondary meaning “an object of horror
and disgust” (a monster). This is probably the sense in which
Paul, recalling his persecution of the Church, calls himself
“the monster of the apostolic family.”
he appeared to me.
Christ’s apparition to Paul (Saul) at his conversion has
constituted him as an official witnesses to the resurrection.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God. 10 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;
Possibly this refers to the situation discussed in 1 Corinthians 9:1-8
where he presents his credentials.
not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me.
This is the result of Paul’s cooperation with the will of God
and not a result of Paul’s initiative.
11 Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you
This is what I taught you when I was among you and what you believed
when I left (see verse 1). This is not new teaching but something which
you once accepted.
“Paul does not expect the Corinthians to choose between him
and the other apostles. He justifies his own credentials as a teacher
but at the same time affirms the others as well. There is no difference
between them, since their authority is the same.” [Saint John
Chrysostom (ca. A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the
Theology is “faith seeking understanding”. When the
interpretation is not in accordance with the faith, it is false and is
to be discarded. The same is true today.
Gospel - Luke 5:1-11
After reading from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth
(the Gospel reading for the past two weeks), Jesus went to Capernaum
where he taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath and cast out a demon,
then He went to Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law,
healed many, casting out demons for some. The next day He went to a
remote spot but the crowds followed Him. Jesus then told the crowds
that He must give the good news in other towns also because that is
what He was sent to do. Verse 4:44 tells us that He preached the gospel
in the synagogues of Judea (one would expect Galilee). Our reading for
today, which is Simon’s call to be an apostle, takes place at
the Sea of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee).
5:1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word
The phrase “word of God” is used 5 times in Luke
and 13 times in Acts (Revised Standard Version) [5 times in Luke and 11
times in Acts in the New American Bible] and generally refers to the
Christian message. By using this phrase of Jesus’ preaching,
Luke “roots the community’s proclamation in the
teaching of Jesus”.
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
The Sea of Galilee
2 He saw two boats there
Luke doesn’t do things singly. Although the spotlight is on
Simon Peter, the companions are always in the shadows, ready to help.
alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing
their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to
Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
The early Church fathers saw in Simon’s boat a symbol of the
pilgrim church on earth. Christ got into the boat in order to teach the
crowds; and from the barque of Peter, the Church, He continues to teach
the whole world. It is not until Luke 6:14 (we are now at 5:3) that
Simon’s name is changed to Peter.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 After he had
finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water
and lower your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon said in reply,
Luke wrote for a primarily gentile audience. He uses
“master” as a favorite title for Jesus rather than
the Hebrew title of “rabbi”.
we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your
command I will lower the nets.”
Although they worked exhaustively throughout the night, Peter will let
down the net because Jesus has asked him to. Nighttime was the normal
time for fishing.
6 When they had done this, they caught a
great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
Fishing nets 2,000 years ago were not like they are today. They had no
synthetics (nylon, rayon, etc.) but had only hemp, cotton, wool and
other natural fibers to work with. The nets were weak by modern
7 They signaled to their partners in the
other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so
that they were in danger of sinking.
Truly a miracle. First, because none were caught earlier; and second,
because the weak nets could contain enough fish to almost swamp two
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord,
The change from “master” to
“Lord” reflects Simon’s recognition of
the presence of the divine. How many today would recognize the divine
presence or would they simply try to strike up a business deal
– “You tell me when and where to fish, and
I’ll give you a share of the profits.”
for I am a sinful man.” 9 For astonishment at the catch of
fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus
said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
Simon’s recognition that he was in the presence of the divine
caused him great fear because he didn’t see himself as
adequate. As he said, “I am a sinful man.” One
doesn’t have to be sinless in order to approach Jesus, His
mercy helps us to recognize our sinfulness and repent.
from now on
Henceforth. A phrase which Luke uses to signal the beginning of a new
period of salvation:
Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
Did not bring peace but division.
22:18 The institution of the Eucharist “from now on
I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God
22:69 Before the Sanhedrin “from now on the son of
man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God”
Acts 18:6 Paul is in Corinth and opposed by the Jews
“from now on I will go to the gentiles”.
you will be catching men.” 11 When they brought their boats
to the shore, they left everything
Luke’s gospel is one of absolute renouncement. Matthew and
Mark restrict the renouncement to nets and father (Mark 1:16-20;
Matthew 4:18-22). In Luke, disciples must leave all things. (see Luke
and followed him.
The follower of Jesus is also a common Lucan expression. Followers are
not members of the crowd but walk in His footsteps. They live the life
which Jesus sets as the example.
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic
Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org