Vatican City, 7 February 2016 (VIS) – The logic that guides the mission of Jesus and the mission of the Church is that of 'fishing', of going out in search of men and women, not our of proselytism but rather to restore full dignity and freedom through the forgiveness of sins, explained the Pope during today's Angelus, commenting on the day's reading from the Gospel of St. Luke which narrates the call of Jesus' first disciples. On the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Simon Peter and his companions were washing their nets after a night's fishing without catching anything. Jesus gets into one of the boats and begins to preach the word of God to the multitude gathered on the banks. He then tells them to take the boat out to see and to cast their nets, and although Simon Peter reminds Him that they had toiled all night in vain, he obeys, faithful to Christ.
"And his faith did not let him down; indeed, the nets were filled with such a quantity of fish that they almost tore", added Francis. "Before this extraordinary event, the fisherman were overcome with wonder. Simon Peter fell at Jesus' feet and said, 'Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man'. This miraculous sign convinced him that Jesus was not only a great teacher, Whose word is true and powerful, but that He is the Lord, the manifestation of God. And this presence, so close to him, inspires in Peter a strong sense of his own pettiness and unworthiness. From a human point of view, one would think there should be distance between the sinner and the saint. In truth, it is precisely his sinful condition that requires the Lord to not distance himself from him, the same way a doctor cannot turn away from the sick".
Jesus’ response to Simon Peter is "reassuring and decisive: 'Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men'. Again, the fisherman from Galilee, placing his trust in this word, leaves everything and follows Him, He Who has become his Master and Lord. James and John, companions of Simon Peter, do likewise. This is the logic that drives the mission of Jesus and the mission of the Church: to seek out, to 'fish' for men and women, to return full dignity and freedom to all, through the forgiveness of sins. This is the essence of Christianity: to spread the regenerating and gratuitous love of God, with an attitude of acceptance and mercy to everyone, so that everyone can encounter God's tenderness and achieve a full life. Here, in a particular way, I think of confessors: they are the first to give the mercy of the Father, following the example of Jesus, just as the two saints, Fr. Leopold and Padre Pio, did.
"Today’s Gospel asks us: do we really trust the Word of the Lord? Or do we let ourselves be discouraged by our failures? In this Holy Year of Mercy, we are called to comfort those who feel they are sinners and unworthy and downhearted for their mistakes, repeatin Jesus' words to them: 'Fear not'. The mercy of the Father is greater than your sins. It is greater, do not be afraid".