Detailed Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: AVAILABILITY NOT ABILITY
By: FR GERALD MUOKA
Homily for Sunday February 6 2022
R1 – Is 6:1-2,3-8
R2 -1Cor 15:1-11
GOSPEL – Luke 5:1-11
In a certain church, there was a man in the choir who couldn’t sing very well. The choir master suggested that he should leave the choir. Others felt he should be given more time to improve. The choir master then decided to go to the Parish priest with threatening complaint, “You have got to get the man out of the choir or else I am going to resign.” The parish priest, in order to ensure peace reigns, went to the man and said to him, “Perhaps, you should leave the choir.” “Why should I leave the choir?” the man asked. “Well,” said the parish priest, “four or five people have told me you cannot sing.” “That’s nothing,” the man replied, “forty or fifty people have told me you cannot preach well.” He then added, “Maybe, you should consider leaving the priesthood because you cannot preach well.” Church agbasaaaa!
Beloved in Christ, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy present us with the call of three unworthy men of uncertain and checkered background: Isaiah, Paul and Peter, as worthy instruments of salvation in the hand of God. The choice of these men teaches us that God has His own criteria for selecting people to be His beloved, disciples, ministers and prophets as against the ways of men (Is. 55:8); invariably, God desires not our _ABILITY BUT OUR AVAILABILITY,_ because, He prefers the weak to the strong, the unworthy to the worthy and the unqualified to the qualified. Nevertheless, none of us qualifies to sing at the choir, minister as priests, etc as we see in the introit story, but God’s sufficiency, mercy and provisions supply for our unworthiness, lack and insufficiencies.
Isaiah, in the first reading, and Peter, in today’s Gospel, express their unworthiness to be in the presence of God’s great holiness, and Peter and Isaiah both immediately receive reassurance and their Divine calls. The second reading describes the call of another great apostle, Paul, who judges himself to be unworthy of the name or the call, as he was a former persecutor of the Christians and as he was last apostle selected by the Risen Lord.
Furthermore, these readings, therefore implore us to discern God’s call to each and every one of us to become his disciples with a special and unique mission as priests, religious, lay faithful, etc. Whereby, our docility to this call, spurs us to recognize God’s holy presence and acknowledge our unworthiness, due to our sinfulness, to become humble instruments in His hands, as the prophet Isaiah did in the first reading, as St. Paul did in the second reading and as St. Peter did in today’s Gospel.
*WE ARE ALL RECRUITED AS FISHERS OF MEN*
Sad enough, when the theme of divine call is read, alot of us tune off, thinking it is only for the clergymen and religious. Obviously, many have the idea that this call of Christ to become ‘fishers of men’ is addressed only to the apostles and their successors (the bishops together with the priests and religious). That’s not true. Every Christian is commissioned to a ministry of love and justice by virtue of his/her baptism. In other words, everybody is called to be ‘fishers of men.’
The Vatican II Document, _Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)_ no. 31 states it clearly that, “The faithful who by baptism are incorporated into Christ’s Body and are placed in the people of God and in their own way share the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ and to the best of their ability carry on the mission of the whole Christian people in the church and in the world.
Thus the entire Church is said to be in a state of vocation and of mission and therefore each member of the Church, each for his or her own part has their own vocation and mission and every one of us is called to play our unique and individual role in building up the life of the Church.
Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit gave the church a charismatic structure; whereby many are called as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teacher, still glued and united under the same mission.
*ABILITY NOT AVAILABILITY: THE UNWORTHY TRIO*
Today’s readings tell us of the experience of divine call and the human response of the individual.
We have here three important persons mentioned in the Bible: Isaiah, Paul, and Peter. All three persons were most grateful to God for having chosen them and they did make a great effort to answer the calling to the best of their capabilities. This is not to say that they were all perfect persons:
(i) Prophet Isaiah wished at times that God would have chosen someone else because the people would not listen to him. He viewed himself as a great sinner among sinners, not worthy of being in the presence of Yahweh. Yet God made him to understand that it is not by ability but availability.
(ii) St. Paul started on the wrong track by persecuting the Christians. He having persecuted the Holy Catholic Church instituted by Jesus viewed himself as being unfit of being called an apostle.
(iii) Peter begged Jesus to get away from him because he was a sinful man. He ran away from his master and denied him during the last twenty- four hours of His life.
All of these men were weak. All of them made mistakes. But what was most important, all of them had sincere hearts and overcame their weaknesses by placing their complete trust in the Lord. Each person responded in a unique way to the divine presence. There was a desire to cling to the Lord and not leave his presence, having experienced his grace functioning in their life. When they found themselves unworthy to be before him the Lord turned to them and filled them with his grace to be sent out as his messengers. They simply made availability the key instead of ability.
(1) *GOD DESIRES NOT OUR ABILITY BUT AVAILABILITY*
Today’s readings are sources of consolation to all us; especially, those who see themselves as being too sinful and unholy to worship and work for God.
The Good News of today’s Gospel is that our sinfulness, our pride and self-centeredness, does not repel God. that is why Pope Francis recently said, “God not afraid of our sins.” It simply brings us closer to God. A mechanic manifests his expertise and job satisfaction, not over a brand new car, rather, a spoilt car. God manifests his forgiving power as a merciful Father, not over the saints, rather towards sinner. David is reckoned the man after God’s own heart (Act 13:22), not by ability, but availability. He was a sinner, who knew how to prostrate before God with psalm 51 to say, “Lore, I’m sorry.” God equally desires your availability. Our response must be like that of Isaiah: “Here I am, Lord…send me.” Our docility should equally be like that of Peter and other apostles, “And they left everything and followed him.”
(2) *EACH OF US HAS A UNIQUE MISSION IN THE WORLD*
The choice of these ‘unworthy trio’ in today’s liturgy, is an indication that, God has a different call for each of us. Because each of us is unique, each of us has a mission which no one else can fulfill. God will use all of us, and particularly what is unique in us, to bring this mission to fulfillment.
So, all our vocations, professions and careers have been commissioned by God, so that we can serve God through those means.
Finally, a story was told about a certain mother and father who were worried about what career their son would choose. A friend told them to place on the dining room table a #1000 note, a Bible and a bottle of Whiskey. Then they were to hide behind the curtains and observe their son’s actions when he came in. If he took the #1000 note, he would grow up to be a banker; if he chose the Bible, a preacher, and if he chose the Whiskey, a drunkard. The son came in and put the #1000 note in his pocket, held the Bible under one arm and the Whiskey under the other, and happily walked out of the room. “Great goodness, _Beati_ ,” said the husband to his wife, “He is going to be a politician!”
Beloved, when you hear the call of God, what do you do? _St. Teresa of Child_ Jesus (the Little Flower) heard God’s call and joined the Carmelite convent when she was only 15. _Mother Teresa_ heard God’s call and joined the Loretto Sisters when she was 18. St. Ignatius of Loyola heard God’s call as a wounded and recovering soldier in his late thirties. _St. Francis Xavier_ was a young, famous university professor when he heard God’s call through St. Ignatius and became a great missionary saint. Just like Isaiah, Peter and Paul, all these saints were sinners who learned to please God not by _ABILITY but AVAILABILITY._ They acknowledged their sinfulness and limitations, and God blessed their good will with His grace and enabled them to transform the lives of many for God.
MAY THE HOLY SPIRIT TRANSFORM EVERY OF OUR UNWORTHINESS AND BROKENNESS INTO BECOMING DOCILE AND AVAILABLE INSTRUMENTS IN THE HAND OF GOD. AMEN!
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_