But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Today’s verse gives us a sort of snapshot of what is taking place in the sacrament of confession. We are, quite simply, to speak the truth about ourselves as far as we can. What happens next is in God’s hands. And God has shown us what his response is in his response to Peter: “Do not be afraid” (for your sins are forgiven) and “henceforth you will be catching men”. As one theologian said, Simon of Capernaum could have practiced self-examination for the rest of his life and never have discovered Peter in there. Instead, he turned to Jesus in all his frailty and sin, told him the truth about himself and allowed Jesus to judge him. In doing that, he discovered the shocking secret of the Christian life: God’s judgement–freely submitted to–is always mercy. And more than mercy. For Jesus not only forgives Simon, he gives him a new life and purpose and, in fact, a new name. Simon finds Peter, not by “looking within” but by looking to Jesus. God intends to give you a new name too. The one you’ve been searching for all your life. Only he knows what that name is. Go to him in humility and seek his merciful judgement. In that you will discover who you truly are.