HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS – “Familiarity with the Lord”

The disciples were fishermen: indeed, Jesus had called them when they were at work. Andrew and Peter were working with the nets. They left their nets and they followed Jesus (see Mt 4:18-20). John and James, the same: they left the father and the youths who worked with them and followed Jesus (see Mt 4:21-22). They received their call precisely as they worked as fishermen. And today’s passage from the Gospel, this miracle, the miraculous catch, makes us think of another miraculous catch, the one Luke tells us about (see Lk  5:1-11): the same thing happened there too. They caught something when they didn’t think they were going to be able to catch anything. After Jesus had preached He told them to go out to sea. “But we have been working all night and we haven’t caught anything!” And Jesus said, “Go”. And Peter said, “On your word we will cast out the nets”. The quantity was so great, says the Gospel, that “astonishment… seized him and all those with him” (Lk 5:9), upon seeing that miracle. 

Today, in that other catch of fish one does not speak about astonishment. We can see a certain naturalness, we can see that there has been some progress, a journey of knowing the Lord, of intimacy with the Lord. I would say the right word would be that they have grown in familiarity with the Lord. When John sees this, he says to Peter: “But it is the Lord!”, and Peter tucks in his garment and jumps into the sea in order to go to the Lord (Jn 21. 7). The first time he kneeled before Him and said: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (see Lk 5: 8). This time he says nothing, it is more natural. No one asked, “Who are you?” They knew that He was the Lord: it was natural, the encounter with the Lord. The apostles’ familiarity with the Lord had grown.

We Christians too, in our journey of life, are in this state of walking, of progressing in familiarity with the Lord. The Lord, I could say, is a bit “down to earth”, but He is down to earth because He walks with us, we recognize that it is Him. No one asks Him, here, “Who are you?”: they knew that He was the Lord. It is an everyday familiarity with the Lord, that of the Christian. And certainly, they ate breakfast together, with fish and bread, certainly they spoke about many things naturally.

This familiarity with the Lord, of Christians, is always in community. Yes, it is intimate, it is personal, but within the community. A familiarity without community, a familiarity without bread, a familiarity without the Church, without the people, without the sacraments, is dangerous. It can become, let’s say, a gnostic familiarity, a familiarity for me by myself, detached from the people of God. The apostles’ familiarity with the Lord is always a community familiarity. It always takes place at the table, a sign of the community. It was always with the Sacrament, always with the Bread.