Receiving forgiveness

February 3, 2022

The first step in receiving forgiveness is to acknowledge one’s own sinfulness. In the Lord’s presence, awareness of one’s own  sinfulness can be overwhelming. When seeing the Lord, Isaiah at once realized he was unclean, crying, “Woe is me” (Isaiah 6:5).   Peter fell to his knees before Jesus, badly admitting, “I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). Paul calls himself, “the least of the apostles…because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Before any of them respond to God’s call, they confess their need for forgiveness. In doing so, they receive healing and reconciliation. Paul tells the Corinthians that after appearing to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred others at once. No mention is made in any of the Gospels of this appearance, which would seem to be quite memorable. Paul’s point is that direct eyewitnesses of the risen Lord are still around to attest to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Hundreds of them. The risen Lord’s presence was not confined to the few narratives we hear in the Gospels featuring no more than twelve disciples at a time.  After Jesus had taught the crowds from Peter’s boat, he asked him to do two things—”Put out into deep water and lower your nets” – neither of which Peter would normally do (Luke 5:4). He must have been quite impressed by this stranger’s teaching to do either one. The Lake of Gennesaret (more commonly known as the Sea of Galilee) is eight miles wide and up to one hundred fifty feet deep. During the day fishing boats stayed closed to shore, for sea squalls as deep as they could to avoid the bright sunlight. Knowledgeable fisherman fished at night. So Peter was faced with doing something both potentially dangerous and visibly foolish. But after hearing Jesus’ teachings, he did. We may feel that sometimes God is leading us out to deep waters and making us look foolish. May his words of reassurance and comfort and the fact that he has shared his very body with us give confidence to trust him. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2021).

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