The beginning of Jesus' public life, starting from “Galilee of the Gentiles”, as it was called by the prophet Isaiah, was the topic of Pope Francis' reflection during this Sunday's Angelus, attended by thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Jesus' mission, he said, “did not set out from Jerusalem, the religious, social and political centre, but rather began in a peripheral zone, an area regarded with disdain by the most devout Jews, on account of the presence in the region of various foreign populations. For this reason, the prophet Isaiah referred to it as 'Galilee of the Gentiles'”.
“It was a border area, a transit zone where people of different races, cultures and religions encountered one another. Galilee therefore became a symbolic place for the opening of the Gospel to all peoples. From this point of view, Galilee resembles today's world: the co-presence of various cultures, the need for comparison and encounter. We too are immersed every day in a 'Galilee of the Gentiles', and in this type of context we can become fearful and give in to the temptation to build barriers, to feel more secure, more protected. But Jesus teaches us that the Good News He brings is not reserved for a part of humanity, but rather is to be communicated to all. It is a joyful proclamation, destined to all those who await it, but also to those who perhaps no longer await anything, or who no longer have even the strength to seek and to ask”.
Setting out from Galilee, Jesus “teaches us that no-one is excluded from God's salvation; on the contrary, God prefers to begin in the periphery, with those who are last in line, to reach everyone. He teaches us a method, His method, which however expresses the content, the mercy, of the Father. … We are all invited to heed this call, to come out of our own comfort zone and reach out to the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel”.
Jesus began his mission “not only from a location far from the centre, but also with men one might describe as having a 'low profile'. To choose his first disciples and future apostles, he did not seek in the schools of scribes or among doctors of the Law, but among simple people committed to preparing themselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus goes to call them where they work, on the banks of the lake: they are fishermen. He calls them and they follow Him, immediately. They leave their nets and go with Him; their lives become an extraordinary and fascinating adventure”.
“The Lord calls today too! The Lord passes along the streets of our everyday lives. Today, too, in this very moment, the Lord passes through the squares. He calls us to go with Him, to work with Him for the Kingdom of God, in the 'Galilees' of our times”.