A Personal Encounter

September 7, 2023
Thursday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

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When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Luke 5:8

Consider carefully this very moving action of Simon Peter. Jesus had just begun His public ministry, healing Simon’s mother-in-law as one of His first miracles. After that, Simon witnessed Jesus heal many other sick people and cast out many demons. And then, shortly after these initial miracles, Jesus got into the boat of Simon, directed him to “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” As soon as Simon obeyed, he caught so many fish that they needed a second boat to come and help them. The response of Simon to this additional miracle is recorded above.

Three things take place in this passage. First, “Simon Peter saw this…” And though he saw this, literally with his eyes, we should see his “seeing” as something even deeper. Simon Peter saw not just the best day of fishing he had ever had. He saw God’s grace at work through Jesus and was deeply moved interiorly by what he saw. Jesus used that which was one of the most central parts of Simon Peter’s life (fishing) to manifest His divine power. In a sense, Jesus brought this lesson home to Simon, using fishing as the source of His lesson.

Secondly, Simon’s response was perfect. By encountering this divine miracle, Simon immediately was aware of his sin. Though we do not know what Simon’s sin was, it is clear that this encounter with our Lord led him to immediately call to mind whatever he was guilty of. Perhaps he had struggled with some ongoing habitual sin for years, or perhaps he had done something of a grave nature that still haunted him. But all we know is that Simon’s encounter with this very powerful and personal miracle moved him to an awareness of his sin.

Thirdly, Simon falls at the knees of Jesus and tells the Lord to depart from him. And though Jesus’ mercy is so great that Jesus would never depart from him, Simon is not only aware of the fact that he is unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence, but he also manifests this conviction through his humble action of repentance. 

What does Jesus do? He said, “Do not be afraid…” And when these new disciples arrived at shore, “they left everything and followed him.”

Each one of us must encounter our Lord in this same way. We must see Jesus. We must be deeply attentive to Him. We must recognize His presence, hear His voice and see His action in our life. If this is done well and through faith, then our personal encounter with our Lord will shine light on the sin we need to repent of. This is not so that we remain in guilt and shame; rather, it is so that we can also humble ourselves before Jesus and acknowledge we are not worthy of Him. When this humble admission is done well, we can be assured that Jesus will also say to us, “Do not be afraid.” His consoling words to us must then be responded to with the same choice made by Simon and the others. We must be ready and willing to leave everything behind so as to follow Him.

Reflect, today, upon this image of Simon Peter on his knees before Jesus. See his humility and honesty. See his sincerity and interior awareness. And see his understanding of the divine power of Jesus before him. Pray that you, too, will see our Lord, experience your sin, humble yourself before Him and hear Him call you to radically and completely follow after Him wherever He leads.

My consoling Lord, You manifested Your almighty power to Simon Peter through his ordinary daily activity. You allowed him to see Your divine power at work. Help me to see You at work in my life also, dear Lord. And as I see You, help me to humble myself before You, acknowledging my unworthiness. As I do, I pray that I also hear You say to me “Do not be afraid,” so that I can get up and follow You wherever You lead. Jesus, I trust in You.

Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows
Traditionally prayed September 7–15

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Featured image above: The Miraculous Draught of Fishes By Konrad Witz, via Wikimedia Commons

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