'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 5, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time_2022_imageA reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 6:1-2a, 3-8)

Last week, we read about the call to Jeremiah to be a prophet and his reluctance because he thought he was too young. Today, we read about God’s call to Isaiah who said he was unworthy. Isaiah’s first response was, “Woe is me, I am doomed.” That is not exactly the kind of response we might have expected but, that is what it was. Why?

Being a prophet is an awesome responsibility but, in both cases, God assured the would-be prophets that he was with them: “Whom shall I send? Who will go with me?” Then, with that assurance, Isaiah did not hesitate: “Here I am, send me.”

Most of us are not called to be prophets in that total life-giving sense, but we are often called to say or do something that is challenging, and sometimes we may feel threatened in such situations. “If I say these words, will people reject me?” “If I do not follow the crowd, will they cut me off or put me down?” It is hard to know when to speak up and when to let something go, at least for the moment. The key is to do what Saint Paul wrote in the letter we read from last week: Speak the truth with love, meaning not with criticism or rejection. Imagine if the leaders of our society talked that way. Imagine if everyone in our families talked that way. Then we could speak the more difficult truths to one another without fear of rejections or reprisals.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 138)

“In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.” We can even sing his praises out of sight of the angels. When was the last time you actually praised God? When can the next time be?

A reading from St. Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians

(Chapter 15:1-11)

Paul makes it clear in this letter that he has been a sinner, a persecutor of the young Christian community, “not fit to be an apostle.” However, Paul does not stop there. He tells his readers that he has moved on: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.”

I suppose that every one of us can say, “I am what I am.” It means we need to accept ourselves as we arenot as someone else would want us to be, but as God’s grace, his very life in us, has made us to be. Like Jeremiah and Isaiah and Paul, we are never alone. God’s grace, his presence, is always within us. We have received the same mercy that Paul received, and we are called to give it away, to share it with those whose lives we touch. It is not as though we are forcing God’s grace on anyone but rather that we are being present to them in a loving way.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

(Chapter 5:1-11)

Luke’s description, in this passage, of the enormous catch of fish should have a familiar ring. Recall, for example, the miracle that launched Jesus’ public lifethe water made wine at the marriage feast in Cana. The amount of wine the author of John’s Gospel describes in that episode was far more than required at a party that had already been in progress for some time. Think, too, about the instances in which Jesus fed crowds of people with fish and bread so abundant that there was plenty left over. All of these images illustrate Jesus’ message that the love and mercy that God offers us is bountiful, inexhaustible, more than we could ever need.  

Painting, The Miraculous Catch of Fish, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael), 1515. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.

Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.


Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bill Ayres

Written by Bill Ayres

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