…Let me say this, my blizzard-jockey friends: When the Washington springtime comes this year, it will be the sweetest ever…
Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:8-11)
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
These were St. Peter’s words when he recognized the awesome holiness of Christ. Peter was afraid. He knew he was not worthy to be in the presence of God. After all, he was a rough and humble working man.
These can be our words, too. “Depart from me, Lord, for I am sinful.” We are all weighed-down by the sin of mankind. We are too obtuse to accept God’s generosity. Instead, we get stuck in our world-bound point-of-view.
If our First Parents had not fallen in the garden, we human beings would have a different point-of-view, focused on God. We would have complete confidence in Providence. We would know that our deepest desire is for God. We would know that He alone can make us truly happy.
As it is, though, we are a fallen race, living in a fallen world, and we each have to struggle to survive. This inclines us toward avarice. We hold on tight to what we have.
None of it is really ours—everything we have is God’s gift. But we cling to our goods instead of letting them go and reaching out for the only real treasure worth having, namely God Himself.
When St. Peter realized that God had come to him, he was paralyzed. Peter could not believe that Christ intended to be his friend. Personal friendship with the Lord was too good for a man like Peter, or so Peter thought.
But Jesus said to the fisherman: No, my friendship is not too good for you. I have plans for you, my friend. I will make you worthy. Just let go of everything else, and stick with me.
The Lord Jesus extends the same invitation to each of us. He has a plan for us all. This plan involves our co-operating with Him, growing closer and closer to Him, and doing great things for Him.
Not long ago there was a letter in the newspaper, criticizing the editors for running an article about a family with six children. ‘You shouldn’t make such families look normal,’ the letter-writer argued. ‘If everybody had such a big family, the environment would be destroyed.’
This is one of the most absurd arguments ever made. If every couple had six children, what would be destroyed would be: self-centeredness and materialism. Maybe the culture of death would be destroyed, too. The environment would be just fine.
But we tend to shrink back from the adventure that the Lord invites us to make. Our faith falters. We think: ‘How close could God really want to be to me, anyway? I have so many spiritual warts. I am a man of unclean lips.’ We tend to think that we are not qualified to be soldiers for the kingdom or fishers of men. ‘Surely the Lord would prefer someone else.’
Today, however, the Lord is saying to each of us: ‘Do not be afraid. I know how poorly qualified you are. I do not care; I am not looking for hot-shots. I am looking for friends with generous hearts.’
St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians teaches us the single qualification we need.
I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3-4)
Only one thing is necessary for us to follow the Lord into the adventure of a holy life. We have to believe that He rose from the dead.
We believe this. We have faith in the triumph of Christ. He has conquered all evil. This faith is literally all we need. The Lord will provide everything else.