“Stay with me, Lord.”


Simon’s heart was racing from effort and emotion, and he gasped for breath as he made his way through the fish to where Jesus was sitting in the stern.  Simon approached this man whose presence had become almost unbearable: they were too different, too distant, too “other.”  And yet it seemed to him that this presence was such an absolute gift to him that only Jesus could reestablish the correct distance between them.

Simon was overtaken by a sense of unworthiness: everything in his life that was petty, false, angry, silly, greedy proud, vile had now become a heavy, nauseating heap.

He was surprised himself by what he cried out in front of everyone: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5.8).  And he knew that no truer words had ever come from his lips.

Even so, just as his words were disappearing into the noise of the water, the wind, the boat, Simon understood that these words, too, were false.  They were no longer true before that face, before the expression of Jesus, who continued to stare at him in silence.  The words were true inside of Peter himself, in his heart, in his humanity, but they were no longer true before Jesus.  He had not yet finished saying, “Depart from me, Lord,” when his heart began crying in desolation, “No! Stay with me, Lord!  Take me with you!”

~Dom Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, O. Cist.

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