Encountering the Power of God

10 February 2019 – Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Fear often invades the ordinariness of life because God’s calling requires action. It is much easier to exercise intellectual assent than to engage in risky action that attests to our beliefs. –– Chris L. Brady

Luke 5:1-11

When Luke’s Jesus calls Simon, they are not strangers. Jesus has already healed Simon’s mother-in-law (4:38–41). Thus, Simon would be predisposed to fulfill Jesus’ request to be taken beyond the shore in his boat. We can assume here that Jesus likely knew that the shoreline of the northwest segment of the Sea of Galilee forms natural amphitheaters so that to be on the Sea the crowd ‘‘listening to the word of God’’ (v 1) would be better able to hear. –– Regina Boisclair

Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13)

Striking about this passage is the clarity of Isaiah’s awe as the only possible response to an experience of God. . . Isaiah’s immediate recognition of his own sinfulness as well as that of all humans (v 5) is testimony to his devotion to Yahweh.

The lectionary sees a typological relationship between Luke’s and Jesus’ call of his first disciples and the call of Isaiah. Isaiah’s recognition of his sinfulness foreshadows the same reaction on the part of Peter. Isaiah’s immediate response to God’s call foretells Luke’s call to Jesus that they would henceforth be catching persons. Luke reports that they brought their boats to shore and left everything to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11). –– Regina Boisclair

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Paul’s Corinthian community had many problems—a point that should give comfort to contemporary Christians as they recognize that the imperfections in their local communities and larger church bodies. One of the problems in Corinth was that some among the community did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (15:12b). Did these Christians sense that their experience of the Spirit was itself the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:18)? Do they sense the afterlife as a destiny only for immortal souls? While there is no way to resolve these questions, this passage has this problem in mind. It stresses the fact that Christ dead, buried, and risen from the dead is the essential Christian tradition that Paul received and passed on.

In this passage Paul provides a list of witnesses to the risen Christ: Cephas, the twelve, 500 brothers, James, all the apostles and even Paul himself. Paul fails to mention the women who are listed in the canonical gospels as first to experience the Risen Christ. It is possible that he did not include them because with a couple of exceptions, women were never considered valid witnesses in first century Israel.

The passage concludes with Paul’s recognition that as one who persecuted the early followers of the Jesus movement, he was unworthy of the title apostle. Yet to assert his authority in Corinth Paul maintains that he has worked harder than other apostles, that the fruit of his ministry proves his right to be called an apostle, and that the Corinthians themselves were fruits of Paul’s proc- lamation of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. –– Regina Boisclair

Chris L. Brady is lead pastor of Wilson Temple, United Methodist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic biblical scholar, teaches at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska.

Homily Service 40, no. 3 (2007): 3-14.

David Turnbloom