“When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.”
I had a text message from a friend last night wondering what this was about! To be honest, I was at Adoration in Urlaur Church and came across this as the Gospel for this morning’s Mass so I just cut and paste the last part of it into the blog. I can see how, standing alone like that, it might seem confusing. I told my friend I might elaborate the point a bit today.
This is the final paragraph of the Gospel Passage I used at my First Mass in Cloonloo on June 15th, 1987. The earlier part of the story tells of Jesus asking Peter if he could use his boat … the use was not that typical of a fishing boat but to put out a little from the shore so that Jesus could stand in it and address the people who had gathered to hear his words. The boat, you could say, became a sort of pulpit and Jesus the preacher using the pulpit. He addressed the crowds for some time and we know (from other Gospel texts) that he impressed them.
When finished, Jesus asked Peter (Simon) to put out a little further and to “pay out” his nets for a catch. Peter said that he had fished alongside his friends all the previous night and had caught nothing but agreed that if Jesus asked him to do this he would. Having thrown the nets overboard they netted so many fish that their nets began to rip. They hauled the catch to the shore and that’s when Peter realised his own sinfulness and threw himself at Jesus’ feet saying: “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man” …. Jesus however did not move. He stood his ground and told Peter that he needed him to stand up, find his feet and direction and to make a real difference in the world.
I suppose that’s the sense I had that night. Even a day after Ordination, I knew that I was a sinful man who quite often got it wrong. I knew too that the Lord would not abandon me but encourage me to my feet and to the waters where fish waited to be caught. I think I had a feeling that even allowing for the mistakes I might make, I was in the right place and doing the right thing.
Overall there was a sense of the Lord’s loyalty to all of us. When others might walk away, he stands by and when others might criticise, he finds words of praise and encouragement. I also liked the idea that he met the fishermen where they were. Having asked for the loan of one of their boats, he immediately sought to pay back their generosity of spirit by giving them what had evaded them the night before – a haul of fish.
So that’s sort of where the text above came from. It took me back to Cloonloo and a beginning ……