Jesus Chooses the Imperfect: A Homily for February 6, 2022

Photo by Rey Spadoni

The two names cited most often in the New Testament, besides Jesus, are Paul and Peter. Both were converts to Christ and both went on to become his most influential and important followers. And both had moments in their lives that changed everything. Everything.

Paul, known back then as Saul, was an enemy of Christians everywhere. He sought them out and punished them for their belief, but then on one memorable day, on a road to Damascus, he experienced his moment. Inexplicably and quite mysteriously, he went from being true enemy of Jesus to follower and friend.

Today’s Gospel story details Peter’s moment. After trying all night and coming up with nothing, upon Jesus’ instruction, he and his fishermen partners had a massively successful catch and then Peter knew. He just knew.

On the surface, you could just say that the conversion of Paul was a miracle. That the fishing success of Peter was a miracle. And that these two men were so awestruck by the power of those miracles that they felt compelled to follow from that point forward. If this is all there is to the story, then that could leave us… wanting miracles. Hoping for miracles. Praying for miracles. And that essentially means that we are comfortable with a transactional relationship with the Heavenly Father, as if to say: “Dear Lord, I am praying sincerely and doing all you ask of me… so please help me with X, Y and Z.” The problem with this is that X, Y or Z may not be what we actually need and so if we are not granted our request, it’s all too easy to conclude that we’re either not praying right, that we must have done something wrong, that God is mad at us… or as happens to some, conclude that there is no God at all.

Jesus, however, is offering a relationship, not a transaction. An ongoing, honest relationship where we approach him with humility and honesty. Where we experience trust and understand that what we are asking for might not be what we actually need. To do that takes real faith.

I find it interesting that at the moment Peter realizes who Jesus truly is, he immediately expresses his unworthiness to even be in his presence. He falls to his knees and tells Jesus to, “depart from me for I am a sinful man”. This is humility. This is surrender.

Peter was an imperfect person. He could be impetuous, hot headed, thick-skulled even. He denied Christ in his greatest hour of need. Yet… he was chosen.

Paul was an imperfect person, the villain in this story, intent on destroying everything Christ had built. Yet… he was chosen.

This tells me that a faith life directed toward humility, surrender, picking yourself up after you fail, even if you do so multiple times, and seeking forgiveness for sins is the true path to eternity and salvation. It’s about the falling down and the getting back up again.

Humility. Surrender. Forgiveness. These are the true miracles of faith.

Because Jesus chooses the imperfect. Like Peter. Like Paul. Like me and like you.

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