Jesus got into the boat belonging to Simon… He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “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. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
What saves Simon Peter over and over again is not his spirit of initiative, or ambition, or purpose-driven life. What saves Simon Peter over and over again is his humility, and God’s love for him.
Every Sunday we begin Mass with one of the most beautiful prayers ever written: The Confiteor (which literally means, “I confess”).
“I confess to all-mighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and Saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”
What a great way to start off the new week! Or what a great way to end the last week! We are so used to hiding our faults. It’s hard to open up to just anyone. Thank God for crowds! It’s a lot easier to be myself when I am not alone, when I am in a crowd. Whoever said they didn’t need to go to Church to pray is a fool! We need to go to Church. We need to see others bow their heads, and bend their knees, and strike their breast! It makes it so much easier for me to do the same, to show piety, to follow a crowd that is finally going in the right direction!
It’s hard to be human - to be really me - and to acknowledge any type of failure. It’s not hard because I don’t know any better. It’s hard because no one else knows any better! People who don’t know me keep telling me that I competed well; that I gave it my best shot or that I did the best that I could do. But in reality, I know I didn’t compete well; that I didn’t try hard enough and that I didn’t think it important at all!
We’ve lowered the bar of expectations so much so that we got the unexpected: savagery! It’s become a common theme today. Just a few days ago a man killed his son when he threw him off a cruise ship (He insists it was horseplay). Two weeks ago a medical doctor was sentenced to fourteen life terms for molesting toddlers. The list goes on and on.
These things did not just overcome a person overnight. These problems must have been brewing and simmering for years. It’s not because we have winners and losers. No! It’s because we consider the losers as winners! No one goes home without a trinket, a certificate or an award, which means no one is worthy of a slap on the hand; a wake-up call or a warning! The child goes home with something for nothing. He goes home rewarded!
That was the past. Now, we have the adult, and the other extreme. We have the child turned adult that has become a demon. Like Satan, we consider the adult as having no merit for life, no chance for recovery, or for forgiveness, mercy and compassion.
After years of grade inflation and false recognitions coupled with false hopes and false dreams like “you can be whatever you want to be”…we are surprised, stunned at what we or they have decided to be!
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Peter was a sinner. What kind of sinner we do not know. But we do know that he was a sinner. So much so, that he asked the Lord to depart from him.
The Lord told his disciples, “Let the children come to me.” Kids need authentic role models. They need authentic graces, along with authentic instruction. John Paul II had great hope for the youth. He believed in them, and they believed in him. He told them the bold and brutal facts. They listened and cheered!
Peter knew who he was. He knew it as a youth. He knew it as an adult. “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Once you accept who you really are, then you can accept who you can really become!
The Lord can do incredible things to those who know how human they are!