"Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional -- rather than as an encounter with Christ -- which explains why they don't see it as a source of joy." -Pope Benedict XVI
(Gospel text: Lk 5:1-11)
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."
Simon said in reply,
"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.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he 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
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
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.
Have you personally encountered the living Jesus?
In today’s gospel reading Jesus gave Peter a preview of the great harvest of souls in the huge catch of fish. Peter was amazed at the size of the catch and at Jesus (Lk 5:9). Peter's personal encounter with Jesus was the critical beginning of his ministry. Each of us desperately needs an "encounter with the living Jesus Christ" (Church in America, Pope John Paul II, 3). A personal relationship with Jesus is the foundation of our Christian life (see 1 Cor 3:11). Everything we do flows from this encounter with the crucified and risen Jesus.
However, Peter's amazement wasn't strong enough to endure the cross. He denied Jesus three times. Even when Jesus appeared personally to Him after He rose from the dead, Peter still wavered. Not long after meeting the risen Jesus, Peter decided to go back to catching fish instead of men (see Jn 21:3). Peter went stale. He lost his freshness.
One of the greatest events in our lives is when we realize our sinfulness, when we fall "at the knees of Jesus saying, 'Leave me, Lord. I am a sinful man' " (Lk 5:8). When we experience the fear of the Lord and get in touch with reality, we realize the incompatibility of our sin with God's holiness. So we cry out: "Leave me, Lord!" However, if the Lord leaves us, we will never be freed from sin and will be separated from Him forever. Therefore, Jesus must stay so we can be empowered to leave our sins.
"For our sakes God made Him Who did not know sin, to be sin, so that in Him we might become the very holiness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).
In His mercy, Jesus gave Peter a second chance, which lead Peter to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and stay fresh till the end of his life.
By going to Confession in our local Catholic Church, we can do the exact same thing!