Reflection for Sunday, February 4, 2001: 5th week in Ordinary Time.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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We could call this "Good Excuse" Sunday. In the long history of God's calling persons to be personal with their response, there is the aspect of always having a reason not to agree or cooperate. They are usually very good objections; Abraham and Sarah were too old to have a child, Moses stuttered, Jeremiah was too young, and today we hear "woe-is-me" Isaiah.||This poor soul seems to be in the wrong place at the right time, at least from the point of view of God. He hears and sees the Holy One and immediately reflects upon himself and his being "a man of unclean lips ... ." He tells the truth and hopes that it will give him a free pass back to his living "among people of unclean lips ... ." He does not know exactly what might be asked of him, but he knows himself to be unworthy of anything so holy.|Talk about being a person in the wrong place at the right time, we have Peter! In today's Gospel, Luke presents us with Jesus' getting into Simon's boat. If He did ask Simon for permission, that was his first mistake. Simon is about to catch more fish than he thought possible, but also be caught in a way he thought improbable. The large catch of fish catches Simon by surprise and he seems to know that he is in the presence of the Holy. He kneels down at the feet of Jesus and tells his truth, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." As with Isaiah, Peter hopes this gets him a ticket back to his boat. Jesus does not deny Peter's truth, nor does He disqualify Peter by replacing Peter with somebody else from the crew who might not be so sinful.|Instead of burning Peter's mouth, Jesus scorches his ears by telling him not to be afraid and that He wanted Peter to help Him catch all souls in His net of loving forgiveness. Peter has a very good and personal excuse. He has a name and an image for himself that, in his eyes, disqualifies him from being close to Jesus. Peter has a good case of Spiritual Inferiority. He has judged himself, labeled himself and signed himself as unfit for being in Jesus' company. He is "just" a fisherman, "just" a simple human being and that automatically makes him not "just."|Simon gets a new name, a new job and a new image of himself and all three take time to complete their transformation. Peter remains quite Simon, for a long time, and spends much time trying to change his job of catching up with the work of Jesus. He meets Jesus and therein continues meeting himself and his truth for a long time. Peter seems to be always echoing the words of Isaiah, "here I am lord." Peter is always a wonderful image of us all. Here I am Lord, but I am not enough, too much that. Here I am, you see me and so You know very well the validity of my self-image, my label. They are such good excuses!|We kneel down today at the feet of Jesus with our truth, our excuses, and our empty nets and as accurate as they are; we are forced to hear His truth, His name for us, His call. His words scorch our ears and His Presence calms and quiets our tongues from saying bad things about ourselves and thinking they are valid excuses any more. He has gotten into our boat and thrown our excuses into the nets, which are then lowered into the "deeper water" of God's love.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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