VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters,
The liturgy of this Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time presents us with the theme of the divine call. In a majestic vision, Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the Thrice-Holy Lord and is seized by a great fear and by the profound feeling of his own unworthiness. But a seraph purifies his lips with a hot coal and takes away his sin, and he, making himself ready to answer the call, exclaims: “Here I am, Lord, send me!” (cf. Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8).
The same succession of sentiments is present in the episode of the miraculous catch of fish, about which today’s Gospel passage speaks. Invited by Jesus to lower their nets, despite a night of fruitless effort, Simon Peter and the other disciples, trusting in his word, make a huge catch. Faced with such a prodigy, Simon Peter does not throw his arms around Jesus to express his joy over the unexpected catch but, as the Evangelist St. Luke recounts, falls to his knees, saying: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Jesus then answers him: “Do not be afraid; from now on I will make you a fisher of men” (cf. Luke 5:10); and Peter, leaving everything, follows him.
Paul too, noting that he was a persecutor of the Church, confesses that he is unworthy of being called an apostle, but he recognizes that the grace of God has accomplished marvels in him and, despite his own limitations, has entrusted to him the task and the honor of preaching the Gospel (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:8-10). In these three experiences we see how the authentic encounter with God brings man to recognize his own poverty and inadequacy, his limitations and his sin. But this fragility notwithstanding, the Lord, rich in mercy and forgiveness, transforms man’s life and calls man to follow him.
The humility that Isaiah, Peter and Paul bear witness to, invites those who have received the gift of a divine calling not to focus on their own limits, but to keep their gaze fixed on the Lord and on his surprising mercy, to convert the heart and continue, with joy, to “leave everything” for him. He, in fact does not look at what man considers important: “Man sees the appearance but the Lord sees the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7), and renders men who are poor and weak, but who have faith in him, intrepid apostles and proclaimers of salvation.
In this Year for Priests, let us pray that the Lord of the harvest send workers into fields. Let’s pray that those who hear the Lord’s invitation to follow him, after the necessary discernment, know how to respond to him with generosity, not trusting in their own power, but opening themselves to the action of his grace. In particular, I invite all priests to revive their generous availability to respond to the Lord’s call every day with the same humility and faith that Isaiah, Peter and Paul had.
We entrust to the Holy Virgin all vocations, especially those to the religious and priestly life. May Mary awaken in everyone the desire to say his own “yes” to the Lord with joy and total dedication.[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]
We celebrate the Day for Life in Italy today. I gladly join with the Italian bishops and in their message on the theme: “The Power of Life: A Challenge in Poverty.” In the current economic difficulty, those mechanisms become more harmful that, causing poverty and creating major social inequality, wound and offend life, striking above all the weakest and most defenseless.
Such a situation consequently calls for the promotion of an integral human development to overcome poverty and need, and above all reminds us that man’s destiny is not well-being but God himself, and that human existence must be defended and favored in all of its stages. No one, in fact, is the owner of his life, but we are all called to care for it and respect it, from the moment of conception until natural death.
As we express appreciation for those who more directly work in the service of children, the sick and the elderly, I affectionately greet the many faithful of Rome who are present here led by the Cardinal Vicar and some of the auxiliary bishops.
The Diocese of Rome gives special attention to the Day for Life and extends it into the Week of Life and the Family. I wish the success of this initiative and encourage the activity of the consultors, the associations and movements, as well as that of university professors, engaged in supporting life and the family.
In this context I would like to note that Feb. 11, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick, I will celebrate Holy Mass with the sick in St. Peter’s Basilica.[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. In the liturgy of today, the Gospel invites us, like the Apostles, to “put out into the deep”, that is, to be brave and zealous in our following Jesus by being obedient to his will. Like Saint Peter on the Lake of Gennesaret, we will discover that fidelity to the Lord leads to a deeper relationship with God and opens us to his gifts. Let us overcome all fears and hesitation that we may rediscover how much God longs to bless us! Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
©Copyright 2010 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana