Pope: Encountering God Reveals One's Inadequacies

Reflects on the Divine Call to Follow Christ

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- When one truly encounters God, its a humbling experience, says Benedict XVI. But despite this recognition of inadequacy, sinners are continually called by the Lord to follow him, the Pope added.

The Holy Father reflected on the divine call today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, noting the «same succession of sentiments» among the call stories of Isaiah, Peter and Paul.

«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,» the Pontiff recalls. After a seraph «purifies his lips with a hot coal and takes away his sin,» Isaiah is ready answer God’s call.

The Holy Father noted how Simon Peter also expressed his unworthiness when, after not having caught any fish during a night-long expedition, he and the other apostles set out their nets and they made a huge catch.

«Faced with such a prodigy,» the Pope explained, «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 answered: «Do not be afraid; from now on I will make you a fisher of men.»

«Paul too,» Benedict XVI explained, «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.»

Mercy and forgiveness

«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,» the Pope explained. «But this fragility notwithstanding, the Lord, rich in mercy and forgiveness, transforms man’s life and calls man to follow him.»

He added: «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.»

The Pontiff, noting that the Church is currently celebrating the Year for Priests, asked the faithful to «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,» the Holy Father added, «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.»

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