The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Brother Tiago Rangel Cardoso, nds

Dear sisters and brothers, we are celebrating the fifth Sunday on the ordinary time. It is Ordinary not because there is no festive or special motive to celebrate. On the contrary, during this liturgical period the reading picks focus on Jesus’ life and ministry in order to enrich and remind us of the commandment and mystery we celebrate in the Mass: do this in memory of me (Lk 22: 19, 1 Cor 11: 24- 25).

Differently from the last and next weekend’s first readings, that are taken from the prophet Jeremiah, we are meditating this Sunday on the text of the prophet Isaiah who places us into the historical time he was living or receiving influence from in the year king Uziah died (cf. 2 Chr 26).

This text presents a vision of the Lord and the place he dwells surrounded by seraphim in a “liturgical worship” crying out holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts. This liturgical image remained and is used in the Synagogue as well as in every celebration of the Eucharist. Moreover, the same kind of witnessing vision is found in the book of Daniel (cf. Dan 7) and later on in the book of Revelation (cf. Rev 4) which seems to put together the apocalyptical vision of worship in Isaiah with the creatures in Daniel.

Isaiah not only witness but offers himself, after being purified, to act in the name of the Lord. The following verses that tells what the Lord has asked form him to announce does not appears in our riding but in short Isaiah was sent to confuse the people for the northern kingdom, Israel, was about to fall and consequently the same would happen to the south, Judah.

The Psalm 137 leads and connect  the understanding of the first reading. In a general sense, as the lips was purified to proclaim the psalm states in the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord and as the seraphim in Isaias’ vision recognizing the greatness of the Lord and the hope we, his creatures, entrust in him.

The Gospel makes use of a well-known landscape for the disciples of Jesus, which working in a metaphorical language, enlarge our understanding. For instance there is the Lake of Gennesaret as a geographical place, however, some scholars see the figure of the water in this case as a chaotic or confusing reality. There are two boats which, in a figurative language, can be seen as two different communities, or even as two different communities of those who believed and professed Jesus as the Lord– Christians, or as Synagogue and the Church. The fishing can symbolize the withdrawing of those immersed into the chaotic reality, if we remember that in Jesus’s time there was a pagan presence– Romans, in some points of the Lake’s shore.

If we consider these as our figurative meanings, we see the similarity in both situation in Isaiah and Luke since the Lord commands Isaiah to go and in the Gospel Jesus commands Peter to fish – rescue, teach. Isaiah who feels his lips unclean as well as and Peter who says  depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.

Finally, in the second reading, the letter of Paul who makes a first summarizing of what, after Nicea up to today, we believe and states as our profession of faith in Jesus Christ that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures […].

As in Isaiah the imperative words are Go and say. Paul witnessed how he went and what he said. Thus, each one of us is not called to remain static but to go and say, teach, preach and let us not forget what Jesus said to Peter, “do not be afraid”.