During the Angelus on Sunday, addressing pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father reflected on the day’s Gospel account of the miraculous catch of fish, and the calling of St Peter. The prodigious catch of fish was a “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.”
Jesus “surprised” Simon by climbing in his boat, and going out a little way 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”.
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.”
After his reflection on the Gospel, Pope Francis drew attention to the “plague” of human trafficking, and called on government leaders to confront the causes of the trade in human beings.
Recalling the World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, which took place on the feast of St Josephine Bakhita on Friday, the Holy Father said the motto for this year’s observance: ‘Together against Human Trafficking’ is “an invitation to join forces to overcome this challenge.” All of us, he said, “can and must work together to denounce the cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women, and children”.
“Prayer is the force that sustains our common commitment” to ending trafficking. Pope Francis led the crowd in the following prayer which was printed and distributed at the Angelus, and shown on the screens for those present:
St Josephine Bakhita, as a child you were sold as a slave, and had to face unspeakable difficulties and suffering.
Once you were freed from physical slavery, you found true redemption in the encounter with Christ and His Church.
Saint Josephine Bakhita, help all those who are trapped in slavery.
In their name, intercede with the God of mercy, that the chains of their captivity might be broken.
May God Himself free all those who have been threatened, wounded, or mistreated by the trade and trafficking of human beings. May He bring relief to those who survive this slavery, and teach them to see Jesus as a model of faith and hope, that their wounds may be healed.
We implore you to pray and intercede for all of us: that we not fall into indifference; that we may open our eyes and look upon the miseries and wounds of so many brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity and freedom, and hear their cry for help. Amen.