Date: Sunday, February 10, 2019
5th Sunday Ordinary Time C
Before receiving Holy Communion, we pray: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This sense of unworthiness is not uncommon and is felt by Isaiah, Paul and Simon Peter in our three Scripture readings. Isaiah, the great Jewish prophet, in the holy presence of God, cries: “Woe is me, I am doomed!” Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, confesses that “I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Simon Peter, after the great catch of fish, falls at the knees of Jesus and says: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” In humility they dare accept God’s calling and, being aware of their own weakness, they recognize that whatever is given to them to do will be accomplished only by God’s grace. Strange, now being conscious of their human frailty, they become aware of their human dignity as a child of God; confused and confounded, they sense a calling, a new purpose for living.
Something else occurs when we know our limitations and are quickly overwhelmed by the task given to us. We come to realize that we cannot do it alone. Simon Peter (and his brother Andrew) signal to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. Jesus calls Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John to be disciples, to follow him. They become apostles when they are sent on mission to announce the Kingdom of God. This is before there are any bishops, priests or deacons. These offices come later in the church.
St. Paul preaches the Gospel to the Gentiles. After Paul establishes a fledgling community of faith at Corinth, he is compelled to move on to start up new communities. But first he commissions men and women to be leaders as prophets, teachers, healers, those who can get things done, and those who have the gift of speech and interpretation of divine wisdom. St. Paul is not abandoning the church. He frequently writes encouraging them to stay the course and to build on the foundation of faith and the revelation that they have received in Christ.
There is a great joy for me being a priest and pastor. I recognize that I can only continue with God’s grace and with the help of partners in ministry and administration – bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity all working together for the common good. This is not a new model. Collaboration is found in Sacred Scripture and in our Catholic tradition. At baptism we renounce sin, we profess our faith in the resurrection, and we are anointed to announce and to bring God’s salvation to others.