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Growing with St Peter

Growing with St Peter

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’

‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’

And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’

 Luke 5:4-8

In Luke’s Gospel, this is the first time we hear from Simon Peter, though he has met Jesus before now.  They know each other well enough for Jesus to use Peter’s boat, and  Peter already has enough confidence in the Lord to put his own opinions to one side and to follow the Lord’s advice.  The development in their relationship comes after this display of trust by Simon Peter.  After witnessing the amazing catch, Peter is aware that Jesus is far greater than he is; far greater than he had previously thought.  ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man’ he says.

One of the most beautiful things about the portrayal of St Peter throughout the Gospels – possibly the most beautiful thing – is watching Peter grow.  For now, he says, ‘leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man’.  If you were to ask him, sporadically, throughout the following chapters, if his opinion has changed, then I should imagine he would continue to maintain that he is sinful… but one can’t but help notice that for a man who has said, ‘Leave me, Lord’, he follows the Lord pretty closely!

Peter’s trust enables him to be bold enough to stay close to Jesus.  In that intimacy, he confirms what he knew: neither he nor any other man is ‘worthy’ of Jesus’ companionship.  However, he also learns about love, which ‘takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes’ (1 Cor 13:6-7).  He comes to know the great mercy and forgiveness of Jesus, which of course enabled him to be able to seek mercy and forgiveness after he denied Jesus on Good Friday.  That trust in the forgiveness of Jesus enabled him to run to the tomb – RUN, not approach cautiously, afraid that Jesus would bear a grudge, but RUN – on Easter Sunday.

We approach Lent aware of our own sins and failings.  However, let us learn from St Peter : let’s be confident in the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness and be continually aware of our need of his presence.  Do not leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.


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