By Christopher Wells
Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis said in remarks at the weekly Angelus, “concerns a miraculous sign” — the prodigious catch of fish — “a sign of the power of the word of Jesus.” When we respond generously to God’s call, he said, Jesus “accomplishes great things in us.”
Put into the deep
The Holy Father was reflecting on the days Gospel, which tells how Jesus “surprised” Simon by climbing in his boat, and going out a little ways from the shore to teach the people. Then, the Pope said, Jesus made another “surprising ‘move’” by asking Simon to “put out into the deep” and lower his nets for a catch.
Simon (to whom Jesus would later give the name Peter) seems at first to offer an objection; but, the Pope said, “inspired by the presence of Jesus, and illuminated by His word,” Simon does as he is asked. “It is the response of faith”, Pope Francis said, the response “that that we too are called to give; and the attitude of openness that the Lord asks of all His disciples, especially insofar as they have duties of responsibility in the Church”.
It is Simon’s “trusting obedience” that prompts the miraculous catch of fish. The Pope explained, “When we come with generosity to His service, [Jesus] accomplishes great things in us”.
God opens new horizons
This, the Pope said, is how Jesus deals with each of us: “He asks us to welcome Him into the boat of our life, to begin again with Him and set out on a new sea, that turns out to be full of surprises”. Jesus’ invitation, he said, “gives new meaning to our existence”. If we, like Peter, are sometimes surprised or hesitant at this call, Jesus encourages us. If we trust in Him, the Pope said, God will free us from our sin, “and open us up to new horizons, to collaborate in his mission.”
“The greatest miracle accomplished by Jesus for Simon and the other disappointed and tired fishermen, is not so much the nets filled with fish, but to have helped them to not fall victim to disappointment and discouragement in the face of setbacks”, Pope Francis said. “He opened the way for them to become heralds and witnesses of His word and of the Kingdom of God.”