FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. FEB 6, 2022
Jesus Invites Us to “fish for people”:
First Reading (Isaiah 6. 1- 2a, 3 – 8)
Responsorial Psalm: 138
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 15. 1 -11)
Gospel (Luke 5. 1 -11)
Once upon a time, there was a wise man walking along a beach. Walking through the sand, he
noticed a young man dancing along the shore. As he got closer to the young man he realized the
young man was not dancing, instead he was reaching down to pick up starfish on the beach and was
very gently tossing them into the ocean.
He called out to the young man. “What are you doing?” The young man smiled and responded,
“Throwing starfish back into the ocean.”
The wise man looking puzzled asked, “Why are you throwing the starfish back into the ocean?”
The young man replied, “The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not return the starfish
to the ocean they will die.”
The wise man replied. “Young man, do you realize how many starfish there are? There are miles
and miles of them along this beach, you cannot possibly make a difference.”
The young man patiently listened to the wise man, bent down, picked up another starfish, and
politely responded, “It will make a difference to this one.”
Today’s readings are all about vocation: Where am I called to go, who am I called to be, and what
am I called to do?
The Prophet Isaiah describes how God touched his mouth. The call of this prophet begins with a
heavenly liturgy. It is not clear whether this is an inner vision of Isaiah or a strong dream or some
other way of perceiving the reality. On the other hand, it is clear that Isaiah takes it as God reaching
into his personal life and cleansing him so that he can proclaim God’s word to others. Because of
this awareness of being cleansed and purified, Isaiah feels that he can be a mouthpiece to be sent by
the Lord to His People. The prophet Isaiah responds to God’s question, “Whom shall I send?” in
growing confidence: “Here I am, send me.” Paul answers the question, “Who am I called to be?”
with humility and integrity: “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” What you see is what you get.
The gospel narrates the call of the fishermen to follow Jesus: “From now on, you will be catching
We can note three things about this Divine call: it comes from God, there is a purification and
cleansing, and, finally, there is a willingness on the part of the one who is called to respond with
I’m remembering important vocational moments in my life: The eagerness to follow Jesus as a
young person. The energy of that response came up against the question of how. Vowed religious
life? Single? Married? I was afraid to choose. Later, I sought to follow Jesus as a young man.
Poet Amanda Gorman recited a poem at the inauguration of President Biden that made waves
around the world. But you know what? She almost didn’t go. She wasn’t just afraid––she was
terrified. Listing all her fears as she lay awake, she said a small voice spoke this message: “Maybe
being brave enough doesn’t mean lessening my fear but listening to it.”
Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians speaks about his personal call to serve the Lord. It
also comes directly from God (Even knocking him to the ground!), it purifies him (making him
aware of God’s plans in a way he had never thought of before) and Paul becomes willing to follow
the Lord. To this is added: “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because
I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has
not been ineffective.
We can sometimes feel unworthy of the call from God, but that’s okay! When a person becomes
keenly aware of his utter dependence on God, his unworthiness, and God’s infinite mercy, he is on
a holy path to a greater intimacy with the source of his life. God called and continues to call some
unworthy characters: King David, Mary Magdalene, the penitent thief at Our Lord’s Crucifixion,
you, and me. Doesn’t this give us all hope for our salvation, the ultimate reunion with God the
Father? Or, do you doubt the call?
Reluctance comes from a variety of fears within us. Fear of not knowing enough, fear of being out
of control, fear of other people, fear of being a fool there are so many fears to overcome. One of
our fears is of love itself. Confronted by love some of us fall into our own unworthiness and hide.
Like Peter, we reject the idea that God loves us because we feel we should have deserved it or earn
it in some way, Peter had learned to fish by his own efforts. We begin to believe that we should
merit God’s love in the same way. Jesus reveals his love for Peter in the abundance of fish Peter
catches. Peter realizes that by his own efforts he can never merit such a catch. His pride pushes
There is a serious me that wants God on my terms. Pride will push away the love of God and I can
fill the space with all sorts of concerted effort, duty and devotions as if I should earn it before I
receive it. My devotion is a response to God’s generosity, not a precondition for it. Finally after all
my efforts have failed I come to him empty handed, a fool, not in control of events and in that
space he whispers, “Do not be afraid.”
Discipleship sounds like a job. It isn’t. It is a walk in the footsteps of Jesus. If we decide to follow
him, he will take us on a journey from the upper tier of the back row, down into the mess and
confusion of people’s lives and into the face of our own limitations. Among these things he teaches
us. Sometimes we will find ourselves in the unexpected spaces, perhaps being laughed at, and often
in these moments he reaches beyond our pride. The alternative is serious, po-faced, respectable and
ultimately reluctant discipleship.
Catholicism is not a religion of sin and punishment rules and regulations, but a religion of growth,
fulfillment, love, and joy. God is happy. In fact, God is Happiness, Our happiness is dependent on
whether or not we actively take steps to unite ourselves with God. Sin separates us from God and
makes us unhappy. When will we wake up and see that sin is self-destructive? Sin doesn’t make
God unhappy, it makes us unhappy. Our task is to become one with God. The attainment of
everything good that we desire for ourselves, our neighbor, an our world is dependent on us
becoming on with God. We become one with God by raising our hearts and minds to truth,
goodness and the things of the spirit. We become one with God through prayer and the sacraments.
It is through prayer, the sacraments, and indeed any spiritual activity that we learn to walk with
God. When we walk with Him, we learn His ways, His wisdom, His love, and His boundless joy.
The path of salvation is an exciting journey; it is one designed for our own good, but often it is not
portrayed or understood in this light.
Fear: Maybe it’s not cowardice but a call forward, a summons to go, to be, to act for what you hold
dear. The poet said on that Inauguration Day, what she found waiting on the other side of her fear,
was “all those who searched beyond their own fears to find space for hope in their lives.”
Each of us is being asked to search beyond our own fears today. The invitation to “fish for people”
is given: to speak up, to heal, to feed, to forgive, to include, to risk. How will you listen to your
fear, and then, how will you respond? Like the catch of fish, we should accept it when we see it
dare to join it occasionally, and recognize it isn’t about us anyway.
God bless. Have a blessed day.