FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Feb 5, 2019

FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 The reflection for the fifth week in ordinary time is taken from a commentary by the great Saint Augustine. Augustine (354-430) was born at Thagaste in Africa and received a Christian education, although he was not baptized until 387. In 391 he was ordained priest and in 395 he became coadjutor bishop to Valerius of Hippo, whom he succeeded in 396. Augustine’s theology was formulated in the course of his struggle with three heresies: Manicheism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. His writings are voluminous and his influence on subsequent theology immense. He molded the thought of the Middle Ages down to the thirteenth century. Yet he was above all a pastor and a great spiritual writer.

 

Gospel: Luke 5: 1-11

            They left everything and followed him

Commentary: Augustine of Hippo

While he was on the mountain with Christ the Lord in company with the two other disciples James and John, the blessed apostle Peter heard a voice from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him. The apostle remembered this and made it known in his letter. We heard a voice coming from heaven, he said, when we were with him on the holy mountain; and he added, so we have confirmation of what was prophesied. A voice came from heaven, and prophecy was confirmed.

How great was Christ’s courtesy! This Peter who spoke these words was once a fisherman, and in our day a public speaker deserves high praise if he is able to converse with a fisherman! Addressing the first Christians the apostle Paul says: Brothers and sisters, remember what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise according to human standards; not many of you were influential or of noble birth. But God chose what the world regards as weak in order to disconcert the strong; God chose what the world regards as common and contemptible, of no account whatever, in order to overthrow the existing order.

If Christ had first chosen a man skilled in public speaking, such a man might well have said: “I have ben chosen on account of my eloquence.” If he had chosen a senator, the senator might have said: “I have been chosen because of my rank.” If his first choice had been an emperor, the emperor surely might have said: “I have been chosen for the sake of the power I have at my disposal.” Let these worthies keep quiet and defer to others; let them hold their peace for a while. I am not saying they should be passed over or despised; I am simply asking all those who can find any grounds for pride in what they are to give way to others just a little.

Christ says: Give me this fisherman, this man without education or experience, this man to whom no senator would deign to speak, not even if he were buying fish. Yes, give me him; once I have taken possession of him, it will be obvious that it is I who am at work in him. Although I mean to include senators, orators, and emperors among my recruits, even when I have won over the senator I shall still be surer of the fisherman. The senator can always take pride in what he is, so can the orator and emperor, but the fisherman can glory in nothing except Christ alone. Any of these other men may come and take lessons from me in the importance of humility for salvation, but let the fisherman come first. He is the best person to win over an emperor.

Remember this fisherman, then, this holy, just, good, Christ-filled fisherman. In his nets cast throughout the world he has the task of catching this nation as well as all as all the others. So remember that claim of his: We have confirmation of what was prophesied.

(Sermon 43, 5-7: CCL 41, 510-511)