Deacon Sil's Word For All Fifth Sunday Of Ordinary Time (C)
Table of Contents
First Reading (Isaiah 6: 1-2, 3-8)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 138: 1-5, 7-8)
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 15: 1-11)
Gospel (Luke 5: 1-11)
Homily: Here I Am, Lord
Prayers of the Faithful
Go To the Table of Contents First Reading (Isaiah 6: 1-2, 3-8)
In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" they cried one to the other. "All the earth is filled with his glory!" At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, I am doomed! 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!" Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. "See," he said, "now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am," I said; "send me!"
Go To the Table of Contents Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 138: 1-5, 7-8)
Refrain: In the sight of the angels, I will sing your praises, Lord. 1) I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name. (Refrain) 2) Because of your kindness and your truth; for you have made great above all things your name and your promise. When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me. (Refrain) 3) All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth; And they shall sing of the ways of the Lord: "Great is the glory of the Lord." (Refrain) 4) Your right hand saves me. The Lord will complete what he has done for me; Your kindness, O Lord, endures forever; forsake not the work of your hands. (Refrain)
Go To the Table of Contents Second Reading (1 Corinthians 15: 1-11)
Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and in which you stand firm. You are being saved by it at this very moment if you retain it as I preached it to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. I handed on to you first of all what I myself received, that Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that he was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day; that he was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. After that he was seen by five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have fallen asleep. Next he was seen by James; then by all the apostles. Last of all he was seen by me, as one born out of the normal course. I am the least of the apostles; in fact, because I persecuted the church of God, I do not even deserve the name. But by God's favor I am what I am. This favor of his to me has not proved fruitless. Indeed, I have worked harder than all the others, not on my own but through the favor of God. In any case, whether it be I or they, this is what we preach and this is what you believed.
Go To the Table of Contents Gospel (Luke 5: 1-11)
As the crowd pressed in on Jesus to hear the word of God, he saw two boats moored by the side of the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a short distance from the shore; then, remaining seated, he continued to teach the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we have been hard at it all night long and have caught nothing; but if you say so, I will lower the nets." Upon doing this they caught such a great number of fish that their nets were at the breaking point. They signaled to their mates in the other boat to come and help them. These came, and together they filled the two boats until they nearly sank. At the sight of this, Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus saying, "Leave me, Lord. I am a sinful man." For indeed, amazement at the catch they had made seized him and all his shipmates, as well as James and John, Zebedee's sons, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men." With that they brought their boats to land, left everything, and became his followers.
Text from: Lectionary for Mass, Copyright © 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; © 1969, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
Go To the Table of Contents Resources:
- Days of the Lord, Volume 6, pp. 35-39. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1991. - Good News, by Rev. Joseph T. Nolan. Liturgical Publications, Inc., 2875 South James Drive, New Berlin, WI 53151. - Catechism: #'s 2794-2796 (Our Father in heaven), 787-795 (Church as the Body of Christ) & 797-801 (Church as the Temple of the Spirit). United States Catholic Conference, Washington, DC: 1994. [As recommended in A Homily Sourcebook (The Universal Catechism), by N. Abeyasingha. The Pastoral Press, Washington, D.C.: 1993.] - The Risen Lord. From The Letters to the Corinthians, by William Barclay. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. 1975. - The Conditions of a Miracle. From The Gospel of Luke, by William Barclay. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. 1975. -Show Me the Fish!. From Dynamic Preaching, Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, TN 37922. - Duck Preachers in Duck Churches (Isaiah 6: 1-8) & WWJD (Luke 5: 1-11). From Homiletics, by Dr. Leonard Sweet. - Depart From Me, from Pulpit Resource by William H. Willimon. Logos Productions, Inc., 6160 Carmen Avenue East, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076. - The Living Pulpit, 5000 Independence Avenue, Riverdale, NY 10471. (Contact them at their web site at http://www.pulpit.org.) - The Call, from More Telling Stories, Compelling Stories by William J. Bausch, pp. 161-165. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT: 1993.
Go To the Table of Contents Homiletic Ideas:
- For another relevant story, see "Charlie at Tulip Time" from Guideposts magazine, pp. 2-5, February 1998. You may order this inexpensive resource through the Homiletic Resource Center at http://www.deaconsil.com/catalog/stories.html.
Go To the Table of Contents Homily: Here I Am, Lord
In our readings today we encounter three men who were called by God in very different ways to do things which they felt unworthy to do: Isaiah, Paul and Peter. In the first reading, Isaiah goes to the temple to pray and mourn the loss of the good King Uzziah when God comes to him in a vision. He is afraid and cries out "I am a man of unclean lips". He feels unworthy of God's call, but is purified by an angel and then answers the Lord's call by saying: "Here I am, send me!"
In all of the Scriptures, this is one of the most classic examples of the use of these words as a response by those who are called by God to serve in a special way, but it is by no means the only one. In the Book of Genesis, God called Jacob in a dream and he responded "Here I am". When God called out to Moses from the burning bush, he too responded with the words "Here I am." Then there is that wonderful episode between Eli and Samuel when Samuel believes that Eli has called him three times when actually God is calling him. Each time he answers "Here I am."
In the second reading, Paul alludes to his conversion to Christianity when he was thrown off his horse and blinded while on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, as is recounted in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. It is in this very event in Paul's life when the words "Here I am" are used in the New Testament. He spends three days in Damascus before the Lord appears to Ananias in a vision and he responds to his call with the same words "Here I am". In this reading, Paul goes on to say: "By God's favor I am what I am. This favor of his to me has not proved fruitless. Indeed, I have worked harder than all the others, not on my own but through the favor of God."
And then in the gospel, Jesus calls his first disciples: Peter, James and John. Now we need to put this gospel into its proper context and point out that this is not the first time that Simon and Jesus have met. As Luke recounts just a few verses prior to the beginning of today's passage, our Lord goes to Simon's house and heals his mother-in-law. So even before this encounter by the Sea of Galilee, Simon is very familiar with our Lord's miraculous powers. And we also have to realize that fisherman catch most of their fish before dawn because the sun's rays will drive the fish deeper in the water. Now Jesus continues to teach the crowds from Simon's boat as the three men finish cleaning their nets. Notice also that our Lord does not have the men immediately put their boats out onto the lake again after their fruitless efforts, but waits until morning is well underway. In addition, the boats do not venture too far onto the lake since Simon is able to call out to James and John to help him. Both of these facts make the catch all the more improbable.
So what is the point of all this for us? Let me begin with a story.
Max Anders, in his book titled GOD gives one of the most powerful analogies of this progression that I have ever read. He says that in the 1940 version of The Mark of Zorro, there is a remarkable "chase" scene in which Zorro is fleeing in the dead of night from a band of Spanish army officers. He is dressed in black, and his horse, of course, is jet black. Racing at breakneck speed through woods, over creeks, along narrow paths, Zorro is finally cornered on a bridge suspended about twenty feet over a river. In one of the most remarkable stunts Anders had ever seen in a movie, Zorro turns his horse toward the railing on the bridge, which is about four and a half feet high, and spurs him. The horse jumps over the railing, into the river below, with the rider still on him. It swims downstream in a hail of bullets from the bridge, and once again, Zorro makes a cunning escape. Max Anders questioned how in the world did that stunt rider get that horse to jump over that railing into the black abyss below? He says that is one of the most unnatural things a horse would ever do. A horse would be almost as likely to dance ballet or swim a back stroke as to jump into a black abyss. He learned the answer from those who train horses. The secret is that the rider must never ask the horse to do anything that hurts it. The rider first gets the horse to do little stunts that seem dangerous, but the horse does not get hurt. So the trainer graduates to major stunts. After years or training, the horse learns to trust the rider, because nothing traumatizing has ever happened to him in the past. As a result, he will do almost anything the rider asks of him in the future. Obviously, this rider had spent a lot of time working with that horse, and a high degree of trust had developed. The horse never hesitated. Over the rail and into the river. Max Anders says that if you know anything about horses, it will almost bring tears to your eyes to imagine the amount of work and trust that had to have gone into such a bold move.(1)
For Peter, the point was that he came to trust our Lord when he healed his mother-in-law, so that when Jesus called him to discipleship, he was ready to leave everything and follow him. It is the same with us. If we learn to trust in the Lord early in our lives, then we will be prepared when he asks us for even more, just like the horse in our story. My wife and I know that in the last few years, the hand of God has been more evident in our lives than ever before (not that he wasn't present before, but it has hit us like a ton of bricks in the last few years.) If you had told us just two years ago that I would move from Trenton to Point Pleasant, transfer my preaching faculties from Holy Angels Parish in Trenton to St. Mary of the Lake, preach on a weekly basis, have a web site, be retired from my full-time government job of the last 26 years and launch a commercial web site to help support my family, I would have told you that you were crazy. As little as a year and a half ago I had no idea what a web site was! And when I retired last month at the ripe old age of 51, many at work thought I was crazy, since I still have a family to care for and at least one child to put through college. But I felt ever so strongly that God was calling me to do this and that he would take care of everything.
In my earlier review of the uses of the phrase "Here I am" in the Scriptures, I neglected to mention a few other occasions when these words are used. In Isaiah is this verse: "Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit." (Isaiah 42:1) And in the great Messianic Psalm 40 is this verse, which Paul would later ascribe to Christ himself: "So I said, "Here I am. To do your will, O my God, is my delight and your law is written upon my heart." (Psalm 40:8) In other words, it is not only our ancestors who responded to God's call with the words "Here I am", but the only Son of God who responded to the Father's call with those very words.
There is one last point: God stands ready to answer our calls for help if we but ask him. Isaiah puts these words into the mouth of God: "I was ready to respond to those who asked me not, to be found by those who sought me not. I said: 'Here I am! Here I am!' to a nation that did not call my name." (Isaiah 65:1) And lastly comes this verse from Isaiah: "Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say: 'Here I am!'".
As we have seen in the last few weeks, the Spirit of God is alive in the world. If our lives are a mess and there appears to be no relief, perhaps it is because we have only been relying on ourselves. The first step in resolving our situation is to realize that we don't have all of the answers. We have to throw up our hands in helplessness and turn to the God for help. We have to have the faith and trust in God to realize that only he can guide our lives according to his plan. Once we have done that, we can turn over our lives to him in prayer. And if we pray to God for help and our prayers appear to be going unanswered, we have to have the faith and trust once again to realize that there is a reason in the Divine Plan for us why these prayers are apparently fruitless.
Isaiah, Paul and Peter put themselves, as unworthy as they felt they were, into the hands of God. And God used each of them to accomplish wondrous things. Why should we believe that it is any different for us? If we place ourselves totally and completely in his hands, the Spirit of God will work in and through us to accomplish his will and do wonderful things. The one thing God asks of us is that we answer his call to service in faith, love and trust with the words of the psalmist which epitomized Christ's life: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will".
1. GOD, by Max Anders. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995. (Quoted in Show Me the Fish!, from Dynamic Preaching, Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, TN 37922. You can order this resource through the Homiletic Resource Center at http://www.deaconsil.com/catalog/homilies.html. I highly recommend this service and it is a bargain at $27 by e-mail, $31 printed or $32 by diskette!)
(Copyright January 30, 1998 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with the help of my friends noted above.)
(Additional resources at http://www.deaconsil.com)
Go To the Table of Contents Penitential Rite:
Lord Jesus, you call us to do the Father's will. Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you call us to follow your way. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you call us to work wonders in your name. Lord, have mercy.
Go To the Table of Contents Prayers of the Faithful
Celebrant: Jesus called his disciples to leave everything behind and follow him and they would be rewarded a hundred fold. Therefore, as his followers, we bring our needs to the Father.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer." For all priests, deacons and religious who have answered the Lord's call to service in a special way, that they may find strength in their vocation, we pray to the Lord. For all married couples as they celebrate World Marriage Day, that they will come to respect and love one another, we pray to the Lord. For all lovers who will celebrate the Feast of Saint Valentine that they will come to know the true meaning of love is sacrifice, we pray to the Lord. For the members of our parish, that we will answer the Lord's call to serve the needs of the community where we live, we pray to the Lord. For the sick of the parish, that they may be healed in body and spirit, we pray to the Lord. For all of the intentions that God knows are in our hearts and which we recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: Gracious God, you sent your Son to call us to a life of service. Just as you came to do the will of the Father, may we come to accept your will in our lives in faith, in trust and in love. We ask this in the name of Christ, your Son and our Lord. Amen.