My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, today we celebrate World Marriage Day. And we have all of you celebrating your anniversaries this year and renewing your vows. So it is a great joy for all of us to be part of this beautiful litergical ceremony. And I was thinking that the readings of the Mass are very appropriate. Because we have to remember that marriage is a vocation, is a calling from God.
So it is fitting that these readings we have just heard are all about God’s calling and our vocation as his disciples.
God is calling each one of us — just as we heard him calling St. Peter and the prophet Isaiah. God is saying to each of us what we heard him say to Isaiah: Whom shall I send? Who will go?
My brothers and sisters, God sends us out into this world. He is calling us to go out and to be good instruments, to serve his purposes.
God calls to each one of us in the middle of our ordinary lives and occupations. As we heard in our Gospel today: St. Peter and the others were working when they met Jesus.
This is how it is with Jesus Christ. He comes into our lives and he asks us to believe in him and to follow him. He comes at every hour. At every moment. Knocking at the door of our hearts, asking us to follow him.
And obviously, Jesus wants an answer from us. He wants us to say with Isaiah: Here I am! Send me!
So today we especially ask for the grace for us to listen to God’s call. We have, but there is always something new in that call to our Christian vocation. And we have to be attentive and listening to God’s call, every hour, every moment of our day. So let’s ask for that grace to listen. And let’s also ask for the grace to say yes. To always be generous in responding to God’s call to us.
In our Gospel today, Jesus calls Simon-Peter to go back out on the lake — to put out into the deep water. Now, St. Peter was a fisherman. He knew what he was doing. Actually that day he kind of had a bad day because he couldn’t catch anything. He knew, his experience told him, that if he went back out on the water, he would still catch no fish. He knew, it was not a time to be catching fish. But he goes out anyway. Because Jesus asked him to do it. He puts his faith in Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful example for us! Yes, we are always trying to follow Jesus Christ. But we need to have faith — strong faith. And do what he commands — no matter what we might think. Like St. Peter, we may think that this is not a time to do this, or ‘I am not capable of doing it.’ But we have faith. We have to put out into the deep. And we have the certainty of being successful because we are doing God’s will for us.
And that’s what the vocation of marriage is all about, isn’t it? It’s a big adventure.
Those of you who are married know that your vocation is like “putting out into the deep water.” When you say “I do,” you are giving your life to another person and together you are setting out on a journey, a great adventure of faith. So, your marriage, as you perfectly know, is a true calling to go with Jesus, to follow him and to serve God’s plan for the salvation of the world. But in order to be able to do it, as it happened in St. Peter’s adventure, we need to count on the grace of God.
In our second reading today, St. Paul tells us: By the grace of God I am what I am. It is amazing that from a persecutor of the Church, he becomes the apostle of the Gentiles. Humanly speaking, it doesn’t make any sense. But when you think of the grace of God, then it’s real.
So we all need to work with God’s grace. In order to grow in our Christian life, we need the grace of God — in our daily effort to do things better. So we ask for the grace to be listening, to say yes. And especially we ask for the grace of God to help us to become what we are supposed to be: good and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
And of many things that are necessary in our Christian life, in marriage life and in our realtionship with one another is one virtue. That is probably one of the most important virtues in marriage and, I will say, in every human realtionship. And that’s the virtue of learning how to forgive.
You have to forgive one another. When you think of your own marriage, you need to learn to forgive. It is an important part of married life and it is an important part of human realtionships, as I said. To forgive and to begin again. Forgiving one another — from the heart. Seventy times seven times.2 That means every time. But it is very challenging.
So my dear brothers and sisters, let us have confidence in the grace of God! With his grace, we can do it.
Finally, in our Gospel today, Jesus is calling all of us to that same vocation of Simon-Peter and the apostles. Not to be people who catch fish. But to be men and women who bring souls to Jesus. We are called to cast a wide net of love — in our homes, in our work, at school, in our society. Especially now.
In these times when marriage is in crisis in our society, we all have a special duty to bear witness to the dignity and beauty of married love. We have a special duty to bear witness that the family is the cradle of every vocation and the foundation of a civilization of love and truth. What a beautiful vocation — our Christian vocation, your married vocation, my priestly vocation— a call from God to share with the world the beauty of our faith. God’s plan for humanity: civilization of love and truth.
So, let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help all married couples to live their vocation better with the grace of God. That our families will be holy families, places of peace and schools of holiness.
1. Readings (Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): Isa. 6:1-2a, 3-8; Ps. 138:1-5, 7-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11.
2. Matt, 18:22.