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With God, people can navigate life with trust, optimism, pope says

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 7, 2022. In his remarks, the pope encouraged people not to despair, but to invite Jesus into their lives. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus wants people to invite him into their lives, no matter how poor, inadequate or shameful their lives are, Pope Francis said.

“Sometimes we feel unworthy of him because we are sinners. But this is an excuse that the Lord does not like, because it distances him from us!” the pope said Feb. 6 during his Sunday Angelus address.

“He is the God of closeness, compassion, tenderness and he does not seek perfectionism: he seeks our welcome,” he said.

The pope addressed the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the midday Angelus prayer and reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Luke in which Jesus invites Simon Peter to try fishing again after catching nothing all night.

Pope Francis said daily life can be compared to the daily work of fisherfolk in which, “every day the boat of our life leaves the shores of our home to sail out into the sea of daily activities; every day we try to ‘fish from the sea,’ to cultivate dreams, to pursue projects, to experience love in our relationships.”

“But often, like Peter, we experience the ‘night of empty nets'” and the “disappointment of trying so hard and not seeing the desired results,” he said.

“How often we too are left with a sense of defeat,” which can breed “disappointment and bitterness” that can dangerously eat away at one’s heart like “termites,” he said.

It is precisely when one’s “boat” is empty, “when we have nothing to offer him,” that there is room for Jesus “to enter our voids and fill them with his presence,” the pope said.

“This is what the Lord loves to do,” he said: “to make use of our poverty to proclaim his wealth, our miseries to proclaim his mercy.”

“God does not want a cruise ship,” the pope said. “A poor ‘ramshackle’ boat is enough for him, as long as we welcome him.”

With the Lord, people can “navigate the sea of life without fear, without giving in to disappointment when we catch nothing and without giving up,” he said.

Whether in one’s own personal life, in the life of the Church or society, there is always “something beautiful and courageous that can be done, always,” the pope said. “We can always start again — the Lord always invites us to get back on our feet because he opens up new possibilities.”

“Let us chase away pessimism and mistrust and put out to sea with Jesus! Our little empty boat, too, will witness a miraculous catch,” he added.

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