If You Say So

By Deacon Thomas Stephenson

February 10, 2019

Isaiah, St. Paul, and St. Peter. We hear of each of these three men in today’s readings. They are all great figures in the history of our faith, and based on what we have just heard, their stories share at least one common element. They are all called by God, and they all know that, by themselves, they are unworthy of that call. However, they are made worthy by the power of the Lord. We know that, in one way or another, each of us is called as well, and we, too are unworthy without the help of God’s grace.

Our Gospel begins with Simon Peter doing something relatively simple. He and his crew have come in after working all night fishing without success. It’s not difficult for him to have Jesus get into his boat and teach from there. When Jesus finishes, He wants Simon to go back out to fish again. We can sense Simon’s hesitation to do that, having caught nothing all night. His heart isn’t really in it, but he does what Jesus tells him anyway. His obedience is rewarded with an amazing catch. This causes Peter to realize that he is in the presence of someone who is at the very least a holy man with miraculous powers, and he recognizes just how unholy he himself is. “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” he says. This does not mean that St. Peter was any more (or any less) a sinner than anyone else, but his sinfulness is made more apparent in comparison to Jesus. It is important for us to see that Jesus does not deny Peter’s claim to being sinful – what Peter said is true, he is a sinner. But despite this truth, Jesus does not reject him. He still calls Peter, and admonishes him not to be afraid. Through God’s grace, Peter will be made worthy despite his sinfulness.

That admonishment is not just for St. Peter – it applies to us as well. We, too, are called by Christ, and we, too, by ourselves are unworthy. Our unworthiness cannot be used as a reason to ignore our call.

It is with the grace of God we can still answer our call as Catholics and Christians. On our own, we cannot possibly achieve what God has in mind for us. Exactly what God wants us to do, what He wants us to be, is unique to each of us. But some of what is expected is common to all of us in one way or another. We are all called to be salt and light in the world. We are called to share the truth of Christ to a world that desperately needs to hear it, and often doesn’t want to listen. We can do that more often by how we live than by what we say. Our example as Catholics may bypass closed minds, and instead find a way to open hearts.

We may also be hindered by that feeling that we can’t share our faith with others because we aren’t perfect. How can we be a witness to others, how can we help others on the road to holiness, when we have so many faults ourselves? None of us are perfect, none of us are worthy, and being Catholic and sinners it doesn’t make us hypocrite – it just means that we have more for us to let God do in our lives.

When we have faith in God, we can allow His grace to work through us to respond to His call. If we answer the Lord’s call by saying “I’m not sure about this, but if you say so…” He will supply us with what we need to succeed. Peter and the others brought their boats to shore, left everything, and followed Jesus. They had faith. God took these uneducated, simple, but hard working men and transformed them into the foundation of the Church. When called, these men were not worthy; they could not have accomplished what God asked of them if they were only using their own abilities. Imperfect as they were, they did what the Lord asked, and are now saints, living eternally in God’.

It can be the same for us. That’s the good news – when we reply to His call be saying “if you say so”; when in faith we place ourselves totally in His hands, despite our imperfections, God will work in us and through us to accomplish His will. And eventually, we will join the saints in the presence of the Lord forever.