Friday, February 5, 2016

Acknowledging sin

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
February 7, 2016

Luke 5:1-11

The story of the "miraculous catch of fish" in the Sea of Galilee was very popular among the early Christians. Several evangelists record the episode, but only Luke ends the narrative with a moving scene that stars Simon Peter, a believing disciple and a sinner at the same time.

Peter is a man of faith, seduced by Jesus. His words have more power for him than his own experience. Peter knows that nobody goes fishing at noon in the lake, especially when you haven't caught anything at night. But Jesus told him to and Peter trusts him completely: "Based on your word, I will throw in the nets."

Peter is also a man of sincere heart. Surprised by the huge catch he got, "he throws himself at Jesus' feet" and with admirable spontaneity says, "Depart from me, for I am a sinner." Peter acknowledges his sin before all and his absolute unworthiness to live closely with Jesus.

Jesus isn't afraid to have a sinful disciple with him. On the contrary, if he feels like a sinner, Peter will be better able to understand his message of forgiveness for all and his acceptance of sinners and the undesirable. "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be a fisher of men." Jesus takes away his fear of being a sinful disciple and associates him with his mission to gather and call men and women of every condition to come into God's saving plan.

Why is the Church so resistant to acknowledge its sins and confess its need for conversion? The Church is of Jesus but it isn't Jesus. Nobody can be astonished that there is sin in it. The Church is "holy" because it is animated by the Holy Spirit of Jesus but it's "sinful" because it often resists that Spirit and departs from the gospel. Sin is in the believers and in the institutions, in the hierarchy and in the people of God, in the pastors and in the Christian communities. We all need conversion.

Habituating ourselves to hiding the truth is very serious because it prevents us from engaging in a dynamic of conversion and renewal. On the other hand, isn't a fragile and vulnerable Church that has the courage to acknowledge its sin more gospel-centered than an institution engaged in vain in hiding its miseries from the world? Aren't our communities more credible when they collaborate with Christ in the work of evangelization, humbly acknowledging their sins and committing to an increasingly gospel-centered life? Don't we have a lot to learn today too from the great apostle Peter acknowledging his sin at the feet of Jesus?

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