By David Uebbing
“The experience of Peter, certainly unique, is also representative of the call of every apostle of the Gospel, who must never be discouraged in proclaiming Christ to all men, to the ends of the world,” Pope Benedict said Feb. 10, before reciting the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square.
His reflections focused on today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke, which recounts Jesus calling St. Peter to follow him.
“The call is in fact preceded by the teaching of Jesus to the crowd and a miraculous catch of fish, carried out by the will of the Lord. In fact, while the crowd rushes on the shore of Lake Gennesaret to hear Jesus, he sees Simon discouraged for having caught nothing all night,” the Pope recalled.
“First he asks him to get into his boat to preach to the people standing a short distance from the shore, and then, after preaching, he commands him to go off with his friends and cast their nets. Simon obeys, and they catch an incredible amount of fish.”
“In this way,” he noted, “the evangelist shows how the first disciples followed Jesus trusting him, relying on his word, and accompanied by miraculous signs.
“We note that, prior to this sign, Simon turns to Jesus as ‘Master,’ and afterwards calls him ‘Lord.’
Pope Benedict stressed that when God calls people, he “does not look so much to the quality of those chosen, but to their faith, like that of Simon, who says: ‘At your word I will let down the nets.’”
The image of the fishing, he explained, refers to the Church's mission.
“The experience of Peter, certainly unique, is also representative of the call of every apostle of the Gospel, who must never be discouraged in proclaiming Christ to all men, to the ends of the world,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father also pointed out that the Gospel reading reflects on vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Man “is not the author of his own vocation, but the proposal is a response to the divine,” he noted, adding that people should not be afraid of their weaknesses if God is calling.
“We have to have confidence in his power acting in our own poverty, we must rely more and more in the power of his mercy, which transforms and renews,” he underscored.
“Dear brothers and sisters,” the Pope said as he finished his remarks before the Angelus, “may the Word of God revive in us and in our Christian communities courage, confidence and enthusiasm in proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel.
“Failures and difficulties do not lead to discouragement: it is our task to cast the nets in faith, the Lord will do the rest. Also trust in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles.”
After reciting the Angelus, the Pope recalled that those who live in the Far East are celebrating the Lunar New Year. He wished them “peace, harmony and gratitude to Heaven” and sent a greeting to all Catholics in the region.
Finally, the Holy Father noted that the Church will celebrate the World Day of the Sick on Feb. 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year the solemn ceremony will take place at the Marian Shrine of Altötting in Bavaria, Germany.
He offered his prayer and affection for all those who are sick.