In the year King Uzziah died,
I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,
with the train of his garment filling the temple.
Seraphim were stationed above.
They cried one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!
All the earth is filled with his glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook
and the house was filled with smoke.
Then I said, “Woe is me, I am
For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
He touched my mouth with it,
“See, now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”
Then I heard the voice of the
“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”
(1c) In the sight of the angels I will sing your
praises, Lord. I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name. In the sight of the angels I will sing your
praises, Lord. Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me. In the sight of the angels I will sing your
praises, Lord. All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth;
and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD:
“Great is the glory of the LORD.” In the sight of the angels I will sing your
praises, Lord. Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands. In the sight of the angels I will sing your
Brothers and sisters,
I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
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;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more
than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living,
though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
he appeared to me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they,
so we preach and so you believed.
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.
Up to that morning, Peter had
not been overcome. He had been surprised, but no more than that. He had not
really been touched, and he had not really decided on what to do, either. He
drank the wine in Cana, but he was not impressed. He always brought his wine
when he wanted some, and it had always been there in a bottle or a leather sack
when he needed it. He had never thought about all the work that goes into the
making of wine. To Peter, wine seemed easy; you just fill barrels with grape
juice, you add certain things, you store it, and you wait. That’s all there is
He had never been overcome by
the fact that Jesus had thrown a devil out of a demoniac. He had been
astonished, and he had said with others: “What a teaching and what a teacher.
He gives orders to unclean spirits and they obey him just like that!” That was
all. Nothing really struck home. The fish was different. They had been
fishing all night. They had caught only a few dead crabs, an old sandal, a
broken pot, and some pieces of firewood. Hopeless. They had already stared
cleaning their nets when he cam along, the man of the wine in Cana, the man of
those healing incidents.
And he said, “Throw out your
nets!” They answered: “Now listen, you might be able to turn water into wine,
but a vineyard owner can do the same. You might have healed some people, but a
doctor does the same. You want us to throw our nets out after this night? No.
Do you want us to make fools of ourselves in front of all these people? We are
fishermen, you know, and you are not.”
They looked at Jesus and saw
the he insisted, so Peter said: “Okay, we will do it! Let’s make fools of
ourselves.” Looking at Jesus, he added: “We are in good company!” They threw
out their nets. They splashed into the water, and suddenly there was a kind of
rush in the lake. It moved all over, the boats were almost pulled down, and the
nets were filled with fish – all kinds of fish, an onrush of fish – tilapia,
eel, pike, and whitefish. Peter almost automatically evaluated the contents of
the nets: tilapia, at six dollars a pound, eel at seven, and whitefish at five.
And then, suddenly, he was
touched. Oh boy, he really was touched! It suddenly struck him: He was
standing in the company of God! He shouted: “Get away from me. I am a sinful
man. Go away!” Just as Isaiah, in the first reading of today shouted at the
moment he saw God: “See how wretched I am. I, a man with unclean eyes, I saw
God. I, a man with unclean ears, I heard God. I, a man with dirty sinful
hands, I touched God. I am lost, let me go, let me die!”
As the African proverb says:
“It is not good to be too near to a chief.” It is not good to be too near to a
king, except when you are called, and even such a call is a bad sign. It is not
good to be too near to God: God wants too much. God knows too much. God is
too single-minded. It is not good to touch God. It is dangerous. You are
going to lose your life, you are going to lose your life. And
An angel came to Isaiah from
behind God. Isaiah was trembling and shaking all over, like a small boy
before he is beaten by his father. The angel took a burning coal, a live burning coal,
and he burned the evil out of Isaiah. A voice was heard, he was sent, and off
he went He lost his life and won it back in God and his new mission.
Peter fell on his knees. James fell on his knees too, and John as well, just
like men condemned to death pleading for their lives. Jesus said: “Be not
afraid, follow men, and you will catch men and women together with me, just as I
am catching you now.”
They brought their boats to
shore. They arranged for the fish to be sold by their friends, and they left
everything and followed him. They lost their lives and won new ones. That is
the risk we, too, live under when we live with Jesus. That is why it is so hard
for us to really be with him. It’s the reason we have so much difficulty with
our prayers. We do not need the devil to tell us not to pray. Our own nature
tells us not to do it. It is too dangerous, you are going to be caught, you are
going to be sent.
Who wants to be with him? Who
wants to open her or his heart to God? Who wants to be touched? Because my
friends, to be touched means to be sent, to be sent by him, who in his
single-mindedness is thinking of only one aim: his Kingdom to come.