St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 10 February 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The Gospel of today (cf. Lk 5: 1-11) offers us, in Luke's account, the call of St. Peter. His name - we know - was Simone, and he was a fisherman. Jesus, on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, sees him while he is setting up the nets, along with other fishermen. He finds it fatigued and disappointed, because that night they had not fished anything. And Jesus surprises him with an unexpected gesture: he climbs on his boat and asks him to get away from the ground a bit because he wants to talk to people from there - there were so many people. So Jesus sits on Simon's boat and teaches the crowd gathered along the shore. But his words also re-open Simone's heart to trust. Then Jesus, with another surprising "move", tells him: "Take off and throw your fishing nets" (v. 4).
Simone answers with an objection: «Master, we struggled all night and we did not take anything ...». And, as an expert fisherman, he could have added: "If we did not take anything at night, let alone take it by day". Instead, inspired by the presence of Jesus and enlightened by his Word, he says: "... but on your word I will throw the nets" (v. 5). It is the response of faith, which we too are called to give; it is the attitude of availability that the Lord asks of all his disciples, above all those who have duties of responsibility in the Church. And Peter's confident obedience generates a prodigious result: "They did so and took a huge quantity of fish" (v. 6).
It is a miraculous peach, a sign of the power of the word of Jesus: when we place ourselves generously at his service, He does great things in us. Thus he acts with each one of us: he asks us to welcome him on the boat of our life, to start again with him and to plow a new sea, which reveals itself full of surprises. His invitation to go out into the open sea of the humanity of our time, to be witnesses of goodness and mercy, gives new meaning to our existence, which often risks becoming flat on itself. Sometimes we may be surprised and hesitant in the face of the call that the Divine Master addresses to us, and we are tempted to refuse it because of our inadequacy. Even Peter, after that incredible fishing, said to Jesus: "Lord, turn away from me, for I am a sinner" (verse 8). This humble prayer is beautiful: "Lord, turn away from me, for I am a sinner". But he said it on his knees before the One who now recognizes as "Lord". And Jesus encourages him saying: "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be a fisherman of men "(v. 10), because God, if we trust Him, frees us from our sin and opens before us a new horizon: to collaborate in his mission.
The greatest miracle accomplished by Jesus for Simon and the other fishermen disappointed and tired, is not so much the network full of fish, as having helped them not to fall victim to disappointment and discouragement in the face of defeats. He opened them to become proclaimers and witnesses of his word and of the kingdom of God. And the disciples' response was prompt and total: "Pull the boats ashore, leave everything and follow him" (v. 11). May the Blessed Virgin, model of prompt adherence to the will of God, help us to feel the appeal of the Lord's call, and make us available to collaborate with him to spread his word of salvation everywhere.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Two days ago, the fifth "World Day against Trafficking in Persons" took place in the liturgical memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita. This year's motto is "Together against the line" [Square applauds] - Another time! [repeat] "Together against trafficking"! Do not forget this. Invite to join forces to win this challenge. I thank all those who fight on this front, especially many religious. I especially appeal to the governments, so that the causes of this plague are resolved and the victims protected. But we all can and must collaborate by denouncing the cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women and children. Prayer is the force that sustains our common commitment. For this reason, now I invite you to recite with me the prayer to Saint Josephine Bakhita that has been distributed in the Piazza. Let's pray together.
Santa Josephine Bakhita, as a child you were sold as a slave and you had to face untold difficulties and sufferings.
Once freed from your physical slavery, you found true redemption in the encounter with Christ and his Church.
Saint Josephine Bakhita, helps all those who are trapped in slavery.
In their name, intercede with the God of mercy, so that the chains of their captivity can be broken.
May God himself release all those who have been threatened, injured or mistreated by trafficking and trafficking in human beings. It brings relief to those who survive this slavery and teaches them to see Jesus as a model of faith and hope so that they can heal their wounds.
We beseech you to pray and intercede for all of us: so that we do not fall into indifference, so that we open our eyes and can look at the misery and wounds of so many brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity and freedom and hear their cry for help. Amen.
Saint Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims! In particular, the faithful of Verona and the "Mendicanti di Sogni" group from Schio.
I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.