There are many traits that mark our relationship with God. The Lord’s mighty providence makes us grateful. The repeated forgiveness of our sins makes us vigilant and careful about our mistakes and weaknesses. Answered prayers for healing and protection lead us to depend more strongly on his power.

The gospel today teaches us a very special attitude that we should also embrace in our relationship with God. Peter had a very special passenger on his boat that day. It might well have been just a dull water-trip excursion for business-wise it was a disaster. There was no catch of fish. When Jesus manifested his power over the waters and its creatures, Peter and his companions could no longer hold the amazingly bountiful catch of fish.

Peter did not shout: How great are you, Lord! He did not exclaim: Thank you so much, Lord! He did not turn repentant saying: Forgive me, Jesus! Of all the reactions that came from his obviously overwhelmed heart, this weathered fisherman simply said: Depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man! He expressed deep humility, knowing that he was in the presence of the God he only knew by faith, and now was riding in his own vessel.

I like the description of St Luke when he said that Peter dropped down at the knees of Jesus. Jesus was sitting on the boat, maneuvering the catch, and Peter knelt in front of the Lord. Imagine the gesture of that grown up man, vigorous and robust, acknowledging a higher power other than his own. In the face of this realization, Peter was filled with humility and even pronounced how far was the distance between him and his God – depart from me…

Jesus was not someone to ignore a humble heart. Jesus is always on the look-out for the humble and the lowly of heart. It was the same attitude that marked his relationship with his Father, the same characteristic that endeared him to the people he came to serve. Seeing this humble man, he did not pay attention to Peter’s wish to move away from him. Instead, he drew him ever closer to himself. It was like Jesus was saying to Peter: “You proclaim the distance between my power and your weakness? Now I proclaim the closeness between us. Come, I will make you my disciple, a fisher of men.” How true it is that God draws near to the humble of heart!

Let us learn today from the example of St. Peter. True humility is not in the looks or in the words. Humility is an attitude of the heart. St. Francis de Sales said something like this: “My advice is that you should go easy with expressions of humility, making sure that your deep inward feelings agree with whatever you say outwardly.” Well said! Jesus, give me a humble heart to acknowledge your presence and power.