POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE 5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
Saint Peter’s Square
5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C, 10 February 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s liturgy, the Gospel according to Luke presents the story of the call of the first disciples, with an original version that differs from that of the other two Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark (cf. Mt 4: 18-22; Mk 1:16-20) . The call, in fact, was preceded by the teaching of Jesus to the crowd and a miraculous catch of fish, carried out by the will of the Lord (Lk 5:1-6). In fact, while the crowd rushes to the shore of Lake Gennesaret to hear Jesus, he sees Simon discouraged because he has caught nothing all night. First Jesus asks to get into Simon’s boat in order to preach to the people standing a short distance from the shore; then, having finished preaching, he commands Simon to go out into the deep with his friends and cast their nets (cf. v. 5). Simon obeys, and they catch an incredible amount of fish. In this way, the evangelist shows how the first disciples followed Jesus, trusting him, relying on his Word, all the while accompanied by miraculous signs. We note that, before this sign, Simon addresses Jesus, calling him “Master” (v. 5), while afterwards he addresses him as “Lord” (v. 7). This is the pedagogy of God’s call, which does not consider the quality of those who are chosen so much as their faith, like that of Simon that says: “At your word, I will let down the nets” (v. 5).
The image of the fish refers to the Church’s mission. St Augustine says in this regard, “Twice the disciples went out to fish at the Lord’s command: once before the Passion and the other time after the Resurrection. In the two scenes of fishing, the entire Church is depicted: the Church as it is now and as it will be after the resurrection of the dead. Now it gathers together a multitude, impossible to number, comprising the good and the bad; after the resurrection, it will include only the good” (Homily 248.1). The experience of Peter, certainly unique, is nonetheless representative of the call of every apostle of the Gospel, who must never be discouraged in proclaiming Christ to all men, even to the ends of the world. However, today’s text is a reflection on the vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life. It is the work of God. The human person is not the author of his own vocation but responds to the divine call. Human weakness should not be afraid if God calls. It is necessary to have confidence in his strength, which acts in our poverty; we must rely more and more on the power of his mercy, which transforms and renews.
Dear brothers and sisters, may this Word of God revive in us and in our Christian communities courage, confidence and enthusiasm in proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel. Do not let failures and difficulties lead to discouragement: it is our task to cast our nets in faith — the Lord will do the rest. We must trust, too, in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Apostles. Well aware of her own smallness, she answered the Lord’s call with total confidence: “Here I am”. With her maternal help, let us renew our willingness to follow Jesus, Master and Lord.
St Peter’s Square
5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C, 7 February 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Liturgy on this Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time presents us with the subject of the divine call. In a majestic vision Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the thrice-blessed Lord and is overcome by great awe and a profound feeling of his unworthiness. But a seraph purifies his lips with a burning coal and wipes away his sin. Feeling ready to respond to God’s call, he exclaims: “Here I am, Lord. Command me!” (cf. Is 6:1-2; 3-8). The same succession of sentiments is presented in the episode of the miraculous catch of which today’s Gospel passage speaks. Asked by Jesus to cast their nets although they had caught nothing during the night, trusting in his word, Simon Peter and the other disciples obtain a superabundant catch. In the face of this miracle Simon Peter does not throw his arms around Jesus to express his joy at the unexpected catch. Rather, as the Evangelist Luke recounts, he falls to his knees saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man O Lord”. Jesus, therefore, reassures him: “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men” (cf. Lk 5:10); and leaving everything, he followed him.
Paul too, remembering that he had been a persecutor of the Church, professed himself unworthy to be called an apostle. Yet he recognized that the grace of God had worked wonders in him and, despite his limitations, God had entrusted him with the task and honour of preaching the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 15:8-10). In these three experiences, we see how an authentic encounter with God brings the human being to recognize his poverty and inadequacy, his limitations and his sins. Yet in spite of this weakness the Lord, rich in mercy and forgiveness, transforms the life of human beings and calls them to follow him. The humility shown by Isaiah, Peter and Paul invites all who have received the gift of a divine vocation not to focus on their own limitations but rather to keep their gaze fixed on the Lord and on his amazing mercy so that their hearts may be converted and that they may continue joyfully, “to leave everything” to him. Indeed, the Lord does not look at what is important to human beings. “The Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7) and makes human beings who are poor and weak but have faith in him fearless apostles and heralds of salvation.
In this Year for Priests, let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers into his harvest. Let us also pray that all who hear the Lord’s invitation to follow him may be able after due discernment to respond to him generously, not trusting in their own strength but opening themselves to the action of his grace. I ask all priests in particular to revive their generous availability to respond every day to the Lord’s call with the same humility and faith as Isaiah, Peter and Paul.
Let us entrust all vocations to the Blessed Virgin, especially vocations to the religious and priestly life. May Mary inspire in each one the desire to pronounce his or her own “yes” to the Lord with joy and total dedication.
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