Some of the Church’s greatest missionaries are converts who have experienced God’s love, mercy and compassion in a profound way.
We saw it in Peter, Matthew and Paul among the first Christian community. Among the saints of the Church, there’s Augustine and Ignatius of Loyola.
Of more recent vintage is Pope Francis’ own “conversion” through his experience of God’s mercy through the sacrament of confession.
This Sunday’s Gospel is the story of Peter’s key conversion moment when he becomes a fisher of men.
Such moments are always a personal encounter with Christ, the Risen Lord, who meets us where we are.
We can trust this as our moment of inspiration that will last for the rest of our life.
It unites us to the mission and person of Christ. It defines our identity and mission, through our response to his invitation to follow him.
We see in this Resurrection appearance in John, his third and final Resurrection story, clear parallels to the original call narrative of Peter in the Gospel of Luke. In both accounts, they went fishing the whole night but caught nothing.
Miracle of the catch
Christ enters the situation and is not immediately recognized by Peter and company. He instructs them to recast their net. They do as they are told, despite the rational, human misgivings over such a command.
Then the miracle of the catch happens.
As the scene unfolds, the recognition is that this man is no ordinary person. Pre-Resurrection, Peter asks Christ to leave because he is not worthy: “Leave me, I am a sinful man.” Post-Resurrection, Peter swims toward Christ and is once more met by Christ where he is.
Christ always meets us where we are. We desire him. We seek him. We take the journey until that moment when Christ meets us where we are, as who we are.
This is a moment of deep and realistic self-awareness that becomes transformative through honest self-acceptance.
In the long version of today’s Gospel where you have the Triple Question of Love episode, Peter’s third response was: “Lord, you know everything. You know well that I love you.”
The awareness of his imperfection and his denial of Christ is also Peter’s acceptance of this imperfect love that empowers him to offer to Christ. It heals him and leads him to the wholeness and freedom that will empower him again to truly follow Christ.
This was Peter’s moment of reintegration and rediscovery of his hidden wholeness. He embraces his imperfection and brokenness, and at one and the same time confesses both his sin and faith: “Lord, you know everything. You know well that I love you.”
Such a moment is also true for us. We discover our most important mission when we accept our deepest pain, woundedness and brokenness, and thus begin the process of healing. It is the grace that heals this woundedness and brokenness that becomes the source of our mission.
It is the experience of the healing grace of God in our life—that wounded, broken part of our life—that inspires us for a lifetime to share this grace with others.
The wounded healer is the most effective healer because he or she knows and understands the pain and brokenness of the other, appreciates the grace that heals, and is moved and inspired to live a life of grateful self-giving.
This is why the converted sinners are the greatest missionaries. They live a life of grateful witness to the love, mercy and forgiveness of Christ that healed them and made them whole—in the person of the Risen Lord. —CONTRIBUTED