Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
"They left everything and followed him."
The Word This Week
We hear the call of another prophet this week - Isaiah. This introduces the Gospel, where we see Jesus calling his first disciples to follow him. Notice that the initiative is Jesus' there is no application process or interview procedure! Notice also the way that Jesus calls his disciples in this account - not with words, but with a miracle that is also a parable. It is, in a way, a miraculous "job description": if the disciple trusts completely in the one who calls, then the result will be truly amazing - a huge catch of men and women hungry for God. Simon's simple words "if you say so" give us an example of Christian discipleship: we should leave our own concerns behind, and simply follow the Lord with great trust.
Notes for Readers
Last week Jeremiah's call emphasised the problems and conflict that go with a prophet's life. Today Isaiah's calls emphasises holiness: we see this clearly in his reaction - he is not "holy enough" to be God's prophet (compare Simon in the Gospel). This is no problem to God: it is the one who calls who gives the holiness, not the one who is called. All the prophet has to do is say "Here I am, send me". The first half of this reading presents a striking and mysterious image: the vision of God enthroned in great splendour. This will call for a special tone of voice - something that can capture a sense of awe at holiness revealed. Understand Isaiah's reaction in the face of this vision: fear, and dismay that he is "a man of unclean lips". But then emphasise God's action in cleansing Isaiah. The final three lines should be read very clearly: you could almost pause after "Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?" and allow the question to float over the congregation before answering: "Here I am."
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