5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Cor 15:1-11
“Leave me Lord; I am a sinful man.”
Today’s readings remind me of the importance of responding to God’s call generously. The message across the three readings resonate with me because unlike the three authors in the readings today — I tend to want to run away from what God is calling me to do. There have been many reasons given, but I guess the main ones were what Simon Peter mentioned in the Gospel.
If one reads the Gospel carefully, it was Simon who told Jesus that they worked all night long but it was Simon Peter who fell at the knees of Jesus. The change in name was not meant to be an accident but instead, suggests how our identity changes the moment we get to know and accept God. The ‘Simon’ nature was a previous sinful version of the apostle — one in which he knew and was continuing to do so. Yet after the call of Jesus, his identity has changed to become ‘Simon Peter’ — where the name Peter means a rock. Knowing Jesus allowed Simon Peter to face the challenges that sin brings and remain unwavering in his faith.
It is with this unwavering faith where we read in the first reading when St Paul chooses to share his conversion story. St Paul, by his own admission, believed himself to be the least of apostles because he persecuted the church. Yet the grace of God has enabled him to turn that unworthiness to be the leaven for which the entire world will be evangelised. I feel that St Paul felt the urgency for the Good News of Jesus Christ to be preached to the world. He was adamant that the message he preached was similar to what the twelve apostles received, and that the Gospel was spread far and wide across the world.
The lesson which we can learn from Sts Peter and Paul is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes us fundamentally once we read and accept its word. The grace which this wonderful Gospel brings will then enable us to spread the joy to the people around us. This is what we are called to do; we are called to share the message of Christ to the people around us using the various means which the modern world brings. Be it through social media apps, traditional media forms and, what I find to be the most authentic version, i.e. face to face conversations. These methods allow the message of Christ to spread to those around us. We become the Gospel which the others read and through us, they discover the joy of believing in Jesus.
What happens if you, like me, are afraid to respond to God’s call? I believe prayer is the antidote to such a feeling. Prayer will allow us to deepen our resolve and allow God to shine His light in the darkness of our lives. We can share with him the vulnerabilities we have and then respond accordingly. Perhaps we need to speak to a Spiritual Director who can clarify for us the emotions which we are feeling. As we continue with our journey, let us not forget that each one of us is called by God for a special purpose. May we respond to this call generously.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for those who hesitate to respond to your call. Melt away their fears and replace it with a spirit of love.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who help us in our spiritual journey.