“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Continuing through Luke in the Sunday gospel readings, we come to the episode of the great draught of fish (Lk 5:1-11).  Jesus is once again hemmed in by all the people who wish to hear Him.  Being by the shore near Simon Peter’s boat, He climbs in and asks Peter to pull out a bit.  After this happens, Jesus continues to teach.   When done, Jesus asks Peter to go out to deeper water and lower the nets.  Peter says that they had been at it all night with no success but complies with Jesus’ request.  The catch is so great that they fill two boats to almost sinking.  Then Peter utters the words in the headline.  Jesus tells him and his partners (James and John) to not be afraid and that they are being enlisted to catch men.  Returning to shore they leave everything to follow Jesus.  Simon Peter’s words to Jesus after this miracle are understandable.  Thank God Jesus did not leave him.  Rather, this man was called to lead Christ’s Church.  Sure, he stumbled plenty along the way so we (and he) would know from Whom his power and authority came.  But it was to sinners Jesus entrusted His Church — then and now.  Unlike Peter, instead of pushing the Lord away when encountering His power versus our weakness, we should desire with all our hearts to have a closer relationship with Him.  Recall the Lord’s words to Paul: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me” (2 Cor 12:9).  We are all sinners and we need to acknowledge it.  Jesus came to take away sins.  This does not mean we aren’t called to overcome iniquity in our lives (“How can we who died to sin yet live in it?” [Rom 6:2])  Sinful behavior in ourselves or in other Church members (even among the ordained or consecrated) is never acceptable.  It calls for prayer, fasting, sacrifice, action.  God’s grace is sufficient but we must be open to it.  Frequent recourse to the sacraments of Confession and Communion will make all the difference in the world.  “Depart from me, Lord”?  No.  Rather: “Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)

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