Duccio, di Buoninsegna, -1319?. Christ Calling the Apostles Peter and Andrew, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=49261 [retrieved February 7, 2022]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_036.jpg.

RCL Year C, Epiphany 5
Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 138, I Corinthians 15:1-11, Saint Luke 5:1-11

The Lessons today pair the very familiar calling of Isaiah with Saint Luke’s account of the calling of Peter, James, and John, those fishing partners on the Lake of Gennesaret, also known as the Sea of Galilee and the Sea of Tiberias.

The callings are in some ways different, but they proclaim and illustrate an active and providential God, intimately acquainted with his creation, actively pursuing his people, and working to redeem them. These callings declare God’s presence and manifest God’s quest for a relationship with his people. They ideally show the power and glory of God. In other words, they perfectly illustrate the Season of Epiphany, the season when we recognize that God’s power and glory are manifest, perceptible, and knowable.

I am underscoring all of this with a thick line of ink, because most of us are looking to see God. We are like Thomas after the resurrection demanding to see Jesus’ wounds as a condition of belief. If we easily perceived God’s presence in a Nor’easter or in a holy death or in a decision to do the right thing for the right reason, then belief in God would be the ready and easy way forward for us. We would then be able readily to trust and to obey. But seeing God in those things can be as difficult as seeing God through a microscope focused on a consecrated wafer. Opening our eyes, the eyes of our faith, is what we are trying to do.

Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty. In the first line of that Lesson, Isaiah can already do what we are trying to do—to see God. But to be useful to God, Isaiah has to overcome his guilt. One of the seraphs obliges him by bringing a live coal to him and touching his mouth. Isaiah’s guilt is removed, and he is ready to go. “Here am I; send me!”[1]

Similarly, the fishermen see Jesus as they wash their nets after an unsuccessful night of fishing. But Jesus shows them that he is God by directing them to a gigantic catch of fish. The miracle triggers Peter to say, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”[2] Like Isaiah, he has guilt, also, that must be overcome. Jesus says to him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”[3] Peter and his partners leave everything and follow him.

If we allow God to open our eyes, the eyes of our faith, we shall see him. And he will remove the guilt or whatever it is that hinders the sight of faith. We have only to allow him to do that. If we look for him, he will reveal himself to us. As the Psalmist says, “When I called, you answered me; * you increased my strength within me.”[4]


[1] Isaiah 6:8.

[2] Saint Luke 5:8.

[3] Saint Luke 5:10.

[4] Psalm 138:4.