The fifth Sunday after Epiphany continues to highlight unlikely instruments and circumstances appointed to reveal God’s glory. “Who will go for us?” God asks. A person of unclean lips, a former persecutor of the church of God, and three fishermen who couldn’t catch a thing. More surprising still, perhaps, is that we are also called.
Readings and Psalm
- Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]
Isaiah says, Here am I; send me
- Psalm 138
I will bow down toward your holy temple. (Ps. 138:2)
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
I am the least of the apostles
- Luke 5:1-11
Jesus calls the disciples to fish for people
God’s Imperfect People
“Go in peace, share the good news.” Week after week Christians gather together, hear the word proclaimed, share a meal, and are sent out to bear the good news of God in Christ Jesus to a hungry, needy world. Inside though, we wonder why God has entrusted such an important mission to people like us.
God’s prophets and apostles carried the same anxieties. Isaiah declares, “I am a man of unclean lips.” Paul asserts, “I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Peter responds to Jesus’ miracle of plenty by saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Yet, without question, God used these flawed and fragile human beings to proclaim God’s mercy and love.
In a world where we are constantly being told that we are insufficient—that we do not have enough, know enough, or matter enough—God’s trust in our capacities seems imprudent, even irrational. But notice, Jesus precedes a call to discipleship with a miracle pointing to God’s abundant provision, signaling that we will be given all we need.
Martin Luther writes in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, “What I accept, I accept not on my own merits or by any right that I may personally have to it. I know that I am receiving more than a worthless one like me deserves; indeed, I have deserved the very opposite. But I claim what I claim by the right of a bequest and of another’s goodness” (Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, ed. Timothy Lull [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989], p. 302).
Jesus meets us at the shorelines of our own lives, going about our daily work, and calls us to lifelong discipleship. Caught up in God’s abundant grace, and fed out of that bounty, we are commissioned to go catch others.