Sunday, February 10, 2013

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)

(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.

We properly recognize our sinfulness not by comparing ourselves to others, but by truthfully realizing Who God is, how holy and majestic He is, and especially by comparing ourselves to His holiness.

All three of today's readings at Mass all have in common a man who recognized his sinfulness and unworthiness before God. They also have in common a man who additionally recognized that God was calling him to His service. Isaiah, Paul, and Peter all encountered the Lord personally with a profound experience of the awesome power of God (Is 6:1ff; Acts 9:3ff; Lk 5:5ff). Each man allowed God to cleanse him and make him worthy to serve Him. They responded with a deep commitment to the Lord and with steadfast perseverance for the rest of their lives.

God knows we are sinful. That is why He sent us a Savior, Jesus, to save us from our sins. He knows we are sinful and unworthy, but in His wisdom, He has called us anyway. Jesus takes away our sin when we go to confession with a priest. He commands us: "Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men" (Lk 5:10). Even though we are unworthy, His grace in us will not be ineffective (2 Cor 12:10).

God doesn't want us to languish in our feelings of unworthiness. Rather, He wants us to jump into the deep ocean of His grace (Lk 5:4), abandoning ourselves into His mercy and His service.

Give Him your sins.

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