On his knees before Jesus, Peter exclaimed: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” — a deeply felt, spontaneous reaction to the catch of fish which revealed Jesus’ awesome power. As a 7-year old child, I felt the same kind of terror the first time I heard the awful, sky-filling wail of a World War II air-raid siren. I ran crying to my mother and stuttered out: “Is it from God ?”

My mother comforted me gently as she explained. Jesus comforted Peter and the other disciplesnot with an explanation but a promise: “From now on you will be catching [not fish, but] people!” Thus assured, “they left everything and followed him.”

God’s power is beyond our imagining. When we stand helpless in the face of some terrifying reality like war, terrorism, or fatal illness, when we feel like hiding, running, giving upwe need instead to fall on our knees before Jesus, asking him not to go away but to stay with us, to empower us, to transform us as he did those long-ago disciples.  He has done that for untold millions, over two millennia; why not for us too?  

Fr. Jack O’Callaghan, S.J. assists the Dean at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine with programs in Ignatian Spirituality.