(Vatican Radio) Do not be afraid but trust in the word of the Lord: that was Pope Francis message to the crowds gathered in a windswept St Peter’s Square on Sunday for the recitation of the Angelus prayer.
The Pope based his reflections on the Gospel reading which tells the story of Jesus calling his first disciples by Lake Galilee. After fishing all night without a catch, they are washing their nets when Jesus gets into Simon Peter’s boat so that he can preach to the crowds of people gathered on the shore.
Peter trusts in Jesus' words
When he has finished speaking, Jesus tells Peter to put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Peter replies that they have been working hard all night without catching anything, but he trusts in his Master’s words and lets down the nets. His faith is rewarded, the Pope says, as they catch so much fish that their nets begin to break.
You will be fishing for people
Amazed by this extraordinary event, Peter throws himself at Jesus feet saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinner”. Peter, the Pope explained, is aware that Jesus is the Lord and feels a strong sense of being unworthy. But Jesus tells him: “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be fishing for people”. Jesus cannot leave him as a sinner, the Pope said, any more than a doctor can abandon a sick person.
Share God's love through hospitality and mercy
Peter and the other disciples are reassured by Jesus’ words which are at the heart of his ministry and of the mission of the Church. Pope Francis said going fishing for men and women does not mean to proselitise but to restore dignity and freedom to them through the forgiveness of sins. This is the essence of Christianity, he said, to share the free and regenerative love of God through hospitality and mercy to all.
Mexico, Cuba and Chinese New Year
After reciting the Angelus prayer, the Pope looked ahead to his forthcoming visit to Mexico and to the historic meeting he will have in Cuba with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Pope also noted that on Monday the Church celebrates a day of prayer against human trafficking and he wished a serene and peaceful New Year to all those who’ll be marking the start of the Chinese new year on Monday.
Watch Pope Francis' Angelus address from his window overlooking St Peter's Square on Sunday: