SUNDAY 5TH WEEK YEAR C
In each of the three readings Isaiah, Paul and Peter feel they have very good excuses for not accepting God’s call. None of them feels worthy or capable enough. Isaiah’s reply is “What a wretched state I am in, I am a man of unclean lips”. Paul says that he hardly deserves the name of apostle, being the least of the apostles at a time when nobody even himself remotely expected this. Peter tells Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish: “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man”. Each one knows that he is in the presence of the Holy One and believe that they are totally unworthy of God’s choice of them. They experience what we might call ‘Spiritual Inferiority’
God chooses us because He is good and not because we are worthy. Jesus does not deny what Peter says about being a sinful man but he calls him nevertheless in the hope that Peter will realize that the work Jesus is entrusting to him could never be accomplished by man or woman without the powerful help of God’s Spirit. It will take a whole lifetime to realize how we need God’s help. So here, Simon as he was then called gets a new name, Peter, a new job and a new image and all three take time to complete their transformation.
In that we are baptized we too, like Peter, are called to witness to God in the world. It is not Isaiah, Paul and Peter who choose God. It is the very opposite and that is what matters. Maybe we can see the demands involved. We might prefer to opt out. If that is our choice then God will leave us free to do if we wish. But we will never have the deep peace and joy we seek if we search for it in other places apart from God.
God sees the marvelous potential in each of us. We each have different roles to play in God’s desire to bring about his kingdom of truth, peace, justice and forgiveness here on earth be it as parents, children, priests, religious etc.
Peter had worked hard all night and caught nothing. Jesus asked him to try again. He could have objected saying he was exhausted or that there were no fish where they had failed to catch any. However, he responded to Jesus and tried again. Look at the result. Sometimes we too may get tired of trying to be good Christians. We may get bored, disillusioned with what we sometimes see going on in the church. We may want to give up on ourselves or on others who disappoint or even betray us. To all of us Jesus says, ‘try again’. I am with you. I count you worthy. You have great potential. But we must be like Isaiah, Paul and Peter realize deeply that we cannot succeed alone. Like Peter, we may fish all night in darkness, but Jesus invites us to call on his help. He is the Light of the World and he will make our efforts fruitful in his own way and in his own time.
In the gospel today Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom (verses 1-3) and fishing, the daily work of these people (verses 4-7) are interrelated. It is an important lesson for us. The gospel must be proclaimed on the basis of people’s lives – yours and mine. Ultimately, of course it is only out of our own personal understanding of who God is that we will witness to here and now. If we think, God is out to punish us and send us to hell then that is the God we will reveal to others. If my experience of God is of someone who loves me passionately and unconditionally, chooses me to work for him despite my failings and sins, knowing that I am forgiven, a loved saved sinner, then that is the God I will witness to.
Jesus invites us all to enter into a new experience of God, to a surprise which only God can work out. God wants to use each one of us to do His work. He does not look at our sinfulness; rather, He comes to our aid. Peter though he was a sinful man was given the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. It is not sin that keeps us away from God but the persistence in sin. Peter after hearing Jesus’s words followed him and became a new being.
Today’s Gospel invites us to do what peter and his companions did, to persevere in our efforts in life. It also invites us to involve Jesus in our efforts in life.