Daily Archives: February 4, 2007

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This being Year C, we’ve got St. Luke, who has it thus: Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

It’s in both St. Matthew and St. Mark as “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I kinda like it better that way, being fishers of men, rather than catching men. Yeah, boy, that catching men sounds really weird to my ears.

The first reading is this really cool scene from Isaiah. First cool thing about it is that it’s set in the year King Uzziah died. I don’t know how we count that year, a couple millenia later, but it was certainly a very practical way to mark time for the people at that time, any particular year being the nth year of a certain king’s reign, or the year some particular king died.

Next cool thing is, when Isaiah sees the Lord, he also sees all these seraphim, who cry out to each other: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory! And that’s the Sanctus right there, what we recite right at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, right before we kneel. That’s where we get it, from Isaiah.

(Interestingly, the Lectionary reading omits part of the second verse from this chapter of Isaiah, where he describes the seraphim: each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. The reading is chapter six, verses one through eight, minus this bit from verse two. I wonder why. Not that it’s especially necessary to the narrative, or to the lesson I guess we’re supposed to take from it. But it’s some good description. Nothing wrong with a little description, is there?)

Finally, what’s cool is that Isaiah freaks out about having seen the Lord. Woe is me, he cries. I am doomed! Apparently he’s doomed because he’s a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips. So then, to dispatch this problem, one of the seraphim flies at him with a burning ember from the fire, holding it carefully with tongs, and he touches Isaiah’s mouth with the burning ember, removing the wickedness & purging the sin. I just love the whole scene, where this heavenly creature has six wings and can fly but needs tongs to pick up something hot. And how the cure, the glowing charcoal briquette, is such a primitive thing, like when Jesus cures the blind man’s eyes with mud that’s he’s mixed from spitting on the ground (as recounted in another great, characteristically cinematic and specific scene from St. John).

And then Isaiah’s ready. The Lord asks, “Whom shall I send?” And Isaiah’s practically raising his hand and bouncing out of his seat, all “Me! Me! Pick me!”