During the Angelus, Pope Francis called on governments to tackle the causes of trafficking. Likewise, he called on everyone to "work together by speaking out against cases of exploitation and slavery". Jesus helped Peter and his fellow fishermen by "helping them not to fall victim to disappointment and discouragement in the face of defeat. He opened them up to becoming proclaimers and witnesses to his word and to the kingdom of God.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke today to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus, offering a prayer for Saint Josephine Bakhita to help "all those who are trapped in slavery", victims of human trafficking.
As a child, the saint was sold into slavery, and then freed by her owner, an Italian. Later she became a Canossian nun in Venice and lived in Schio (Vicenza). On her feast day, 8 February, the fifth International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking was held, titled ‘Together against human trafficking’.
"It is an invitation,” said the pope, “to join forces to meet this challenge. I thank all those who fight on this front, especially the many men and women religious. I particularly appeal to the governments, so that the causes of this scourge are dealt with decisively and the victims protected. But we all can and must work together by speaking out against cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women and children. Prayer is the power that sustains our common commitment.”
Afterwards, together with pilgrims, Francis recited the prayer that had been handed out to everyone in the square. Before that, he offered his thoughts on today's Gospel (5th Sunday for year, C; Luke 5:1-11).
In the latter, we read about Simon “tired and disappointed, because that night they had caught nothing” and Jesus' invitation to go back out and throw the fishing nets. Immediately, “Simon objected, but then, inspired by the presence of Jesus and enlightened by his Word, said ‘. . . but at your command I will lower the nets’ (Luke 5:5).”
“This,” the Pope said, “is the response of faith, that we too are called to give; it is the attitude of availability that the Lord asks of all his disciples, above all those who have duties of responsibility in the Church. And Peter's confident obedience led to a prodigious result: "they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing’ (Luke 5:6)”
"It was a wondrous catch. . . When we place ourselves generously at his service, He does great things in us. He does the same with each of us: he asks us to welcome him on the boat of our life, to start again with him and to plough a new sea, which reveals itself full of surprises. His invitation to go out into the open sea of the humanity of our time, to bear witness to goodness and mercy, gives new meaning to our existence, which often risks turning inward."
The Holy Father ended his address by speaking about Peter's resistance, a sign of his "inadequacy" ("Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”), and Jesus' encouragement ("Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men”).
For Francis, "The greatest miracle accomplished by Jesus for Simon and the other disappointed and tired fishermen, was not so much the net full of fish than helping them not to fall victim to disappointment and discouragement in the face of defeat. He opened them up to becoming proclaimers and witnesses to his word and to the kingdom of God. And the disciples' response was prompt and total. ‘When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything* and followed him’ (Luke 5:11).
“May the Blessed Virgin, a model of prompt acceptance of God's will, help us feel the fascination of the Lord's call, and make us available to work with him to spread his word of salvation everywhere."