(CNS photo/Vatican Media)

May 1, 2022

At the Sunday Regina Coeli prayer, Pope Francis encourages us to look beyond the “empty nets” we can find in life and look always with courage to the Lord who can fill our nets with his overflowing love and consolation, renewing our desire to do good.

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis offered his customary reflections on the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts the third appearance of the Risen Lord to the Apostles, when He met them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. When the Apostle Peter told the other disciples he was going fishing – a profession he had abandoned since he left his nets to follow Jesus – the others accepted and went along with him, but they caught nothing during the night. The Pope observed that Peter, perhaps a bit disheartened at the time, proposed to the others to return to this former life.

From empty nets

In a similar way, perhaps we too can find ourselves tired and disappointed and forget about the Lord and the important choices we have made in our lives, the Pope suggested. Perhaps, he said, we do not dialogue much in our families by pursuing our own interests, or we forget to pray or be charitable. When that happens, we can become disappointed, with “empty nets” like Peter.

To nets overflowing

Yet Jesus returns to the shore of the lake where He had originally chosen Peter, Andrew, James, and John, the Pope pointed out. Instead of scolding them, Jesus tenderly addresses them as “children,” inviting them to cast their nets again, which this time are filled, overflowing with fish. The Pope suggested that when “our nets are empty in life,” we should not stop and feel sorry for ourselves and try to forget things, but courageously set out to begin anew and seek Jesus to help us.

Love generates wonder

The Pope said Peter needed that stunning surprise when the Lord appeared to them, and the Apostle John’s exclamation, “It is the Lord!” Peter immediately dove into the water to meet the Lord, “a gesture of love,” the Pope explained, coming from wonder and the love that “inspires creative, freely-given zeal.” Peter dives in to meet the Lord on the shore, reflecting his “new-found enthusiasm.”

Dive into the good

We too are called to ride this wave of new enthusiasm and drive, the Pope added, “to dive into the good without fear of losing something,” calculating too much, or waiting for others to begin. We need to “unburden ourselves” and be generous, without restraining the impulse of the heart and going back to things that we are safe with. And he added, for emphasis, “Jump in, dive in!”

“Do you love me?”

Jesus then asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” The Pope explained that the Lord addresses the same question to us today, as faith is a question of love, overcoming our fears to start anew with the courage to “dive in”, and to let go of our past, which can keep us from serving God and our brothers and sisters.

In conclusion, the Pope recalled that Peter stopped fishing forever after this event, and gave his life to God and neighbor, offering his life “right here in this place where he was martyred and buried.”

“May Our Lady,” the Pope said, “help us to rediscover the impulse to do good.”

By Thaddeus Jones

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