Accepting mercy and a new beginning: reflections on the Sunday Gospel by Father Steven LaBaire

I am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

When Jesus was being held in custody by the Roman authorities, most of his friends deserted him.

Included among those who abandoned Jesus was Peter.  Peter had been a close disciple of Jesus.

Standing by the fire of the high priest’s courtyard, Peter denied knowing Jesus– not once, not twice, but three times.

rahul rekapalli campfire, Flickr Creative Commons
rahul rekapalli campfire, Flickr Creative Commons

The scriptures tell us that it was “night.”

It’s safe to say that it wasn’t just the sky that was dark that night. Continue reading “Accepting mercy and a new beginning: reflections on the Sunday Gospel by Father Steven LaBaire”

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Getting beyond “I’m not good enough” – this week’s Gospel reflection by Father Steven LaBaire

father steven labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

This Sunday’s gospel is about some fishermen who encounter Jesus. (Luke 5:1-11)

One of the fishermen, Simon Peter, is so overwhelmed by his meeting Jesus that he actually tells Jesus to go away. Yes, he really says that to Jesus.

“Go away from me, for I’m a sinful man.” In other words, “ Leave, please leave … I’m not good enough.”

Have you ever had the experience of feeling “not good enough?”

  • Not “good enough” to make the team.
  • Not” good enough” to be invited to that party.
  • Not “good enough” to be her friend.
  • Not “good enough” to be loved by him.
  • Not “good enough” to be remembered or thought of… by “them.”

One of the saddest experiences of being a priest is when I ask someone to serve the church in some way and instead of a smile of acceptance, I see a bewildered face that replies:

“Father, I’d love to… but… I’m not good enough.  I’m unworthy of that…”

(In other words, I’ve got some stuff I’m not proud of. I’ve got “skeletons” in my closet.  I’ve got a past. There are parts of my story I don’t want to share or for you to know about.)

Like Simon Peter, we cannot imagine God passionately in love with us, who so often have felt “not good enough.”

But that is the “mystery” of God: that God loves us despite ourselves. We’re loved anyway. (Hard to really  get that through our heads sometimes, isn’t it?)

Notice that Jesus refuses to heed Simon Peter’s request “to go away.”

And Jesus goes on to tell him. “Don’t be afraid.” ( In other words: Don’t be afraid of being imperfect. Don’t fear your humanity. That’s the way you were made. God will put it to good use.)

Beryl Allee Skeletons in My Closet, Flickr Creative Commons
Beryl Allee Skeletons in My Closet, Flickr Creative Commons
Leonard J shoes of the fisherman, Flickr Creative Commons
Leonard J shoes of the fisherman, Flickr Creative Commons

Simon Peter then leaves everything behind and follows Jesus.

When we stop being afraid of “not being good enough,” God can lead us down some amazing paths. God will even make us better people.

Being imperfect is no excuse for not doing the work that Jesus calls us to do. Being imperfect doesn’t exclude anyone from being loved by God.

And that’s more than being “good enough.”

That’s  grace.

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