The last public event of Pope Francis' first day in the Bulgarian capital Sofia was an evening Mass in Prince Alexander I Square. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel episode where Jesus reveals Himself again to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias after His resurrection. The episode he said reminds us of three amazing things that are part of our lives as disciples, namely, God calls, God surprises, God loves.
The Pope pointed out that it was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus first called Peter to follow him. But now, burdened with pain and guilt and weighed down by suffering, disappointment and betrayal on the death of their Master, Peter and several disciples of Jesus were going back to their former life of fishing.
The Pope said that the Lord is aware of the subtle and dangerous temptation to be disheartened and give up, wanting to take back what we had decided to leave behind. This is the tomb psychology leads us to indulge in a soothing sense of self-pity that, like a moth, eats away at all our hope. Faith thus wears down and degenerates into small-mindedness making us think everything is normal.
It was at this very moment of Peter's failure that Jesus appears, starts over, patiently comes to him and calls him "Simon". The Lord 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. In Jesus, God always offers us another chance. When Jesus's call directs our lives, our hearts grow young.
The Pope went on to explain how the Lord of surprises invites us not only to be surprised but also to do surprising things. Seeing their empty nets, the Lord tells them to do something odd: to fish by day. He revives their trust by urging them once more to take a risk, not to give up on anyone or anything.
The Pope said that the Lord breaks down the paralyzing barriers by filling us with the courage needed to overcome the suspicion, mistrust and fear.
The third amazing thing that God does is He loves because his language is love. Just as He asked Peter, He also asks us to learn this language of love. Admitting his weakness, Peter understands that to love means to stop putting himself at the centre and to make Jesus, and not himself, the starting point.
"Being a Christian," the Pope said, "is a summons to realize that God's love is greater than all our shortcomings and sins." One of our great disappointments and difficulties today, the Pope said, comes not from knowing that God is love. "God is love that loves, that bestows itself, that calls and surprises."
In casting their nets on the right side of the boat, the Pope pointed out, we see the miracle of God, who makes of our lives works of art, if only we let ourselves to be led by his love. The Pope said today we are called to walk with him towards the future, knowing that, whether we succeed or fail, he will always be there to keep telling us to cast our nets.
The Pope said that a Church that is young in spirit is inviting us to testify to the love of Christ by striving for the common good. This love, he said, enables us to serve the poor and become protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism. The Pope concluded urging Bulgarians not to be afraid of becoming saints and holy saying, "it will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy."
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