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Sunday 7th February

  • Isaiah 6:1-8
  • Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
  • Luke 5:1-11

There is always a connection in the Sunday readings between the first reading and the Gospel. The theme of today’s readings is a sending out; of Isaiah in the first reading and of the disciples in the Gospel. The second reading has echoes of the theme too with Saint Paul reflecting on his calling and vocation. There are certain patterns to vocation stories in the scriptures. There is first the call; then the protest of unworthiness; the reassurance; the acceptance of the mission and the sending out. Isaiah protests his unworthiness; he is purified and cleansed; reassured; accepts his call and says ‘Here I am, send me’. The same pattern is shown in the Gospel and in the call of other figures from the scriptures like Moses,( I cannot speak well.) Jeremiah, ( I am too young.) David (left out in the sheep-field.) and Our Lady. (I am a virgin.)

The story in the gospel of today has entered the mind of the Christian world. We speak of the leader of the Catholic Church as walking, ‘in the shoes of the fisherman’ and of the Church as ‘the barque of Peter’. It begins with a usual scene from the banks of the sea of Galilee. Jesus is teaching the crowd who are pressing all around him to hear his words, to be cured of their diseases or maybe just out of vulgar curiosity.

The simple and practical solution to the problem of Jesus being crushed is for him to get into a boat, row out a few paces from the shore and from this shaky, bobbing platform, he speaks to the crowds without fear of being swamped. The fishermen had of course left their boats and were, we are told, washing their nets, when Jesus chose Simon Peter’s boat as his pulpit.

When he finished speaking he turned to Peter and invited him to. ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch’. Peter’s response is immediate, as always. He protests (he knew that night time was the best time for fishing) and then he obeys. Having obeyed, the fishermen are rewarded with a generous catch. This miracle confirms Peter’s insight and faith in the identity of Jesus. Peter is remembered for his greatness and for his failings too. He realises that he is in the presence of someone holy and this holiness makes him fall on his knees in a gesture of humility.

Like Isaiah in the first reading, he realises that he is in the presence of the divine and he becomes conscious of his sinfulness. ‘What a wretched state I am in. For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts’. The challenge of the story told today is to have faith. Nothing other than faith impressed Christ. We are to fear not and to have courage. The invitation is issued to us to go out as messengers, strong in faith, unafraid, and willing to take risks even when we are dispirited by hard work and few results. We are encouraged to move out from the safe shallows where there are few fish to be caught, out of the unproductive superficial into the depth of the Mystery of life and of God. We might be surprised by the catch and by the reward.

Í lionta Dé….