I have found Luke 5: 1-11 to be a good Lenten meditation. It is his account of the calling of the first disciples. You have heard the story: Jesus is near Lake Gennesaret and he sees two boats moored by the lake. He instructs Simon Peter to put out into deep water and cast his nets. The catch was so great that the nets nearly broke. What was Peter’s immediate response to the recognition of the Son of God in his midst? “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.”
Isn’t it true that when we recognize Jesus in our lives, in the lives of those to whom we are called to serve, in the lost, forsaken, poverty-striken, homeless, undocumented and persecuted in our midst, we are left with a keen sense of our sinfulness? The scriptures have examples of this: Moses when approaching the burning bush, Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, Peter when Jesus casts a glance at him after his betrayl on the night before he died, King David when confronted with the truth of his sin by the prophet Nathan.
Is it perhaps the reason fewer and fewer of us seem to be meeting our Lord? We have lost our awareness of sin. The Lord reveals himself to the sinner. “I have come to the sinner, not the righteous” said Jesus somewhere in the Gospels. Jesus shows himself to us in our sinfulness.
Don’t expect a radical conversion like St. Paul. Those kinds of conversions are luxuries, I think. Most of us are converted slowly, over time. Life whittles away at us. Our daily choices, to get up and do something this day that is loving, forgiving, just and true are what convert us, for in doing so, we face our limitations, our weaknesses, our sinfulness, and thus our need for Jesus. It is then that he reveals himself.
And we too can bring in a netful of good work; we too will experience the miraculous if we are willing to meet Jesus and say with Peter, “Lord, I am a sinful man.”