“Depart from me for I am a sinful man”
This a beautiful homily that the Abbot (Dom Augustine) gave this last Sunday This is a beautiful take on Lk: 5:1-11
5th Sunday of Ordinary Time February 5 2019 Lk 5: 1-11
In today’s gospel we have the powerful scene of Peter on his knees saying: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man”. I ponder it first thinking of what Jesus did not say explicitly or implicitly: He did not say to Peter you really are not. Don’t be hard on yourself you need to get therapy first. Don’t get scrupulous on me Peter. Forget about it Peter. No, he said something more powerful, beautiful, and healing. Be not afraid. Of course you are a sinner. It’s your existential condition. But I am with you. I take you with me with all your sins. I will never leave you even if you ask me. This condition of yours is not an impediment to my love and involvement with you. I will heal you of your sin. Do not be afraid of your past. And this experience you have of me will give you the desire and confidence of drawing all others to myself as well. Peter represents all of us. Everyone of us here. Jesus responds to us as he does to Peter.
Just last week we read the story of the exorcism at the Genasenes. Here the town’s people begged Jesus to leave them after the incident of the exorcism. In this case, Jesus did leave. He did not tell them not to be Afraid. What could be the difference? Lack of acknowledgement of one’s brokenness, one’s own woundedness, one’s own sin. Upsetting the order of things too much.
Jesus asks the disciple to put out into the deep. He asks all of us to do so. To stay away from the shallow waters of superficiality. The superficiality we can often see in the world, in secularized society. Do we have to keep up with the keep up with the Kardensians. There is a distinction of having the need to be lighthearted, to enjoy for example a world series victory after 108 yrs (yet even there is something deeply symbolic as we see hope and perseverance leading ultimately to final victory) vs the superficiality which gives not much attention to the Transcendent and Eternal. That there even is a Transcendent and Eternal. But that this Eternal and Transcendent is ultimately Benign. Be not afraid. This Transcendent and eternal has become incarnate. Benignity, in the fullest, deepest, most beautiful sense is now incarnated. As a Person. And alongside this be not afraid to go into the deep into the woundedness that exists not only in our own hearts but the hearts of so many who suffer, struggle and are alienated in our society. Those who are even alienated from God. To know too, underneath it all, there is always real drama of redemption happening in our world. We have to go out into the deep to sense this. What is happening in Venezuela I believe is an example of a drama between good and evil—not just ideology. We are called to go out especially as monks to enter into these deep waters. It is not mean to be morose. The faith, hope, love which Jesus promises us gives us the levity of heart alongside the seriousness of heart we need.
The only way to go out into the deep is with Jesus. The only way not to be afraid. We can not be unafraid unless we have Jesus with us. Jesus knows we will be afraid. But we need to listen to his words as he tells us now not to be afraid. Not that we will not have fears, but to remind ourselves, when we are afraid, of what Jesus tells us. Do not go away from me Lord, help not to be afraid even though I am a sinner.