Drawing on the 21st chapter of John, Pope Francis on May 5, 2019, spoke of three amazing things that are part of the life of a disciple: God calls, God surprises, God loves.
The Holy Father’s remarks came during his homily as he celebrated Mass in Knyaz Alexandar I Square, Sofia, Bulgaria, on May 5, 2019. It was a major event in his apostolic journey to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, May 5-7.
The Pope explained that first, God calls. He called the first disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. And at the end of the Gospels, Christ reveals himself again on the shore of a sea. After the passion, some had returned to fishing, not yet understanding the resurrection.
“Now, after all, that had happened to him, after the experience of seeing the Master die and hearing news of his resurrection, Peter goes back to his former life,” the Pope recalled. ‘He tells the others disciples, ‘I am going fishing’. And they follow suit: ‘We will go with you’.
“They seem to take a step backward; Peter takes up the nets he had left behind for Jesus. The weight of suffering, disappointment, and of betrayal had become like a stone blocking the hearts of the disciples. They were still burdened with pain and guilt, and the good news of the resurrection had not taken root in their hearts.”
Pope Francis said that all are tempted to “return to the way things were before” when the is a difficulty. It is tempting to return to the past. But the Pope insisted the Lord continues to call:
“The Lord does not wait for perfect situations or frames of mind: he creates them. He does not expect to encounter people without problems, disappointments, sins or limitations. He himself confronted sin and disappointment in order to encourage all men and women to persevere. Brothers and sisters, the Lord never tires of calling us.
The second thing God does is surprise. The Pope said he not only surprises use but asks us to do surprising things.
“God surprises us whenever he calls and asks us to put out into the sea of history not only with our nets but with our very selves,” the Pope said. “To look at our lives and those of others as he does, for ‘in sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand’.”
And the third amazing thing God does is love. The Pope stressed that love is God’s language.
“That is why he asks Peter, and us, to learn that language,” Francis said. “He asks Peter: ‘Do you love me?’ And Peter says yes; after spending so much time with Jesus, he now understands that to love means to stop putting himself at the center. He now makes Jesus, and not himself, the starting point…
“The Lord loves us: this is the source of our strength and we are asked to reaffirm it each day. Being a Christian is a summons to realize that God’s love is greater than all our shortcomings and sins.”
The Holy Father Complete Homily