“Do we really trust the Word of the Lord? Or do we let ourselves be discouraged by our failures?”
Pope Francis asked those present in St. Peter’s Square for his Angelus address at noon to contemplate this, and recall how God has promised to stay with us, even if we’ve sinned.
The Holy Father drew his inspiration from Luke’s Gospel reading today when Jesus tells Simon Peter to not be discouraged by past failed attempts to fish on the Sea of Galilee, and to try again. Trusting the Lord, he does, and the nets overfill.
Jesus told the fisherman not to fear and that he would make him a fisher of men. Despite feeling unworthy, he, along with James and John, trust Jesus, leave everything behind and follow him.
“In this Holy Year of Mercy,” the Pope stressed to the faithful, “we are called to comfort those who feel they are sinners and unworthy and downhearted for their mistakes, telling them the same words of Jesus: ‘Fear not.'”
“The mercy of the father is greater than your sins. Don’t fear,” he said, stressing, “It’s greater. ”
From a human point of view, he admitted, one could think there should be distance between the sinner and the saint. However, he explained, “the sinful condition requires the Lord not distance himself from the sinner, just as a doctor doesn’t distance himself from he who is sick.”
As the fishermen were summoned to Jesus, from that moment forward, to ‘fish’ men, instead, Francis said: “This is the logic that drives the mission of Jesus and the mission of the Church: to seek out, “fish” for men and women, to return full dignity and freedom to all, through the forgiveness of sins.”
“This is the essence of Christianity: to spread the regenerating and gratuitous love of God, with the attitude of acceptance and mercy, to everyone, because everyone can meet the tenderness of God and have fullness of life.”
Departing from his prepared text, the Pope added that this makes him think of confessors, who are the first to give God’s mercy. He noted how they follow Jesus’ example in this way, and that Saints Leopoldo Mandic and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the 20th Century Capuchin confessors, whose relics are now in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as requested by Francis, were great models of this.
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