Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Freedom of Spirit

By Beth DeCristofaro

Brothers and sisters: … we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10)

When Simon Peter saw (the boats filled with fish), he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” … Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:8-10)

Lord grant me the grace to have freedom of the spirit.
Cleanse my heart and soul so I may live joyously in Your love. (

In this passage, Peter began his interaction with Jesus clarifying that “we’ve already done that” when Jesus asked him to put his nets out again in deep water. However he then agreed and was rewarded so richly that he fell to his knees in humility, awe and acceptance. I wonder if he later remembered this scene at a time when he could not speak to his Lord and admit his doubt and pride. When Peter denied Jesus he crept away, weeping bitterly over the betrayal.

On both occasions, however, Jesus’ action is not to chastise Peter but to call him into deeper relationship and offer even more challenging service. I wonder if Jesus saw in Peter’s willingness to admit his sinfulness and face Jesus in regret and friendship that Peter would be open to seeing and forgiving the same attributes in men and women for which Peter, the Rock, would later fish? Peter’s weakness caused him to know he must – he could only - rely on Jesus. Did he know that was the same for our spiritual growth?

Sometimes we confuse forgiveness with forgetting. Jesus forgave but did not forget. He allowed Peter to be forged by acceptance, confession and reconciliation of his sins. Perhaps we can also see that when we are wronged, our forgiveness can stem from the knowledge of our own sinfulness and desire for forgiveness. Forgiveness frees our spirit and allows us to seek justice, right wrongs, admonish and model with a free spirit, living joyously in Jesus’ love. We need to start on our own knees in front of the Lord and then, at his merciful invitation, get up, leave our sins behind and follow him.

Pope Francis reminds us, with such elation in his message, what Peter discovered: the immense mercy of God. Pope Francis tells us that the embarrassment, the shame, we feel as we enter the confessional “is a grace which prepares us for the embrace of the Father who always forgives and always forgives everything.” And as an enthusiastic child said as he experienced the Sacrament: “It feels like having really, really clean teeth!” Take time soon for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be newly freed in Spirit. (

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