2-10-2019 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb 11, 2019
5th Sunday in OT / C / 2019
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
The Church has selected some very beautiful readings for us today—but they are also very practical for the spiritual life. And here is a summary: 1) invasion of grace, 2) confession of sin, and 3) mission. Keep those things in mind as I speak.
The emphasis will be on the first reading from Isaiah and the third reading from Luke— there is a beautiful parallel between the two, reinforcing a powerful spiritual message— the call, the vocation, that all of us Christians have received.
Isaiah is in the temple, when something extraordinary happens—something mystical, and Isaiah remembers the exact time that it happened. He says it was the year King Uzziah died—it was one of those events that burns itself into one’s memory.
Isaiah is in the temple praying, and grace broke into his life: "I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple." A spiritual vision, with typical mystical language. God’s transcendence ("a high and lofty throne"); God’s immanence ("the garment filling the temple"). The reality of God—beyond us and with us.
And what does this tell us? It says that we don’t begin the spiritual life on our own. It’s not about us . . . our accomplishments, our virtue, our sin, our good looks! No. None of that matters. What matters is that GOD BREAKS IN! The invasion of grace. All we must do is be open, receptive. It is a matter of Grace. And God acts first.
So, jump to the Gospel. Jesus is preaching along the shore. Without asking any permission, with no invitation, Jesus hops into Simon’s boat. This was Simon’s livelihood, his shop, his most important possession. Like someone jumping into your car! You’d be a little shocked!
This is the NT version of the invasion of grace. GOD BREAKS IN! God gets into Simon’s boat and tells him "put out into the deep" (Duc in altum). Stop playing around in the shallows, like a child. Go deeper! In other words, an encounter with God always pushes us into the deep.
In a human way, we might complain about this "invasion," like Simon, "I’ve already gone there, but nothing happened." As long as it is OUR project, nothing will happen. But when we cooperate with grace, the catch of fish is a hundredfold. Life to the fullest.
For both Peter and Isaiah, the invasion of grace brings another reaction: unworthiness. Simon Peter says, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Isaiah says, "I am a man of unclean lips."
Notice this recognition of sin comes AFTER grace, not before. When the light of grace hits us, we see ourselves fully. And sight leads to confession. And confession leads to forgiveness. God has come to call sinners, not the self-righteous.
The final step in this process is mission . . . for Isaiah, "Here I am; Lord, send me." For Simon Peter, "He left everything, and followed him." Mission.
Isaiah. Simon Peter. The invasion of grace. The confession of sin. Mission. The pattern of our vocation. The call that we have all received. "Here I am Lord; send me."