“…And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon (Peter), ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” (Lk 5: 4-11)

“Depart from me,” says the future Chief-of-the-Apostles when he first encounters the Lord, “for I am a sinful man.” As a pious Jew of that time, Simon-Peter presumes there is to be insurpassable distance/separation between our sinful, fallen humanity and God. Just as there was a “veil” in the Temple, separating the Holy of Holies, which signified God’s dwelling-place on earth, from all other spaces where people dwelt.

But the times they were a’changin’. Because that “veil” was soon to be “torn in two from top to bottom” (Mt 27: 51) by this very Lord, Who did not, and does not, distance Himself from sinners. He comes to us, all of us, calling us to change, despite our fear of change. “I have come to call not the righteous,” He reassures me today, “but sinners to repentance (εἰς μετάνοιαν, to a change of mind)” (Lk 5: 32). So let me not fear, but embrace the change He brings me today. Let me follow Him, doing the next right thing, according to my responsibilities. “Do not be afraid!”

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