One of Christ’s apostles who teaches me most about myself is Simon Peter. In no way am I pretending to aspire to his greatness, only I find it easy to identify with the “ups and downs” that he experienced in his life.
In today’s Gospel reading we find him, the average down-to-earth laborer, with all the humility and generosity of a good man. Jesus asks him a favor: “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Peter recognizes the genuineness and importance of the teacher and although they had been fishing all night without any success, Peter obliged. Astonished by the size of his miraculous catch, Peter falls to his knees and asks Jesus: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Then at Caesarea Philippi he not only received the attention of Jesus but also status among the other apostles. He witnessed: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This brought him all kinds of confidence. So much so that the night before Jesus dies, he could boast, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be shaken.” Such unwarranted boasting brought about a rebuke from Jesus. It also led to his triple denial at being identified as a follower of Christ when questioned by simple maidservants.
Within days, Peter would be brought back with humility and dependence at the seaside picnic. The Risen Savior would question his genuine love by asking him three times: “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Now the humbled apostle with self-knowledge could tell the Lord honestly and sincerely, “Lord, you know everything. You know well that I love you.” It was Peter’s way of saying: “Lord if you are God and I know and believe you are God; then you know all things. You know that I love you. Don’t look at my track record and please don’t ask me to prove it; but since you are God, you have to know that I love you.”
I’ve always believed that Christ allowed me to fail and be humiliated many times over during my lifetime, just to help me gain self-knowledge. Don’t you think that is the Lord’s way of helping each of us become the genuine person he expects us to be? How else would he be able to make us the fit instruments, so that like Peter, we could become his fishers of men?
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