Vatican City: Pope Francis centered his weekly catechesis on the upcoming Year of Mercy, urging the Church not only to keep its doors open, but to go out to those who may not have the strength to enter.
“An inhospitable Church, like a family which is locked in on itself, demeans the Gospel and withers up the world,” the Pope said last Wednesday to attendees at his general audience in the Vatican. “No armored doors in the Church! Open all of them!”
Pope Francis delivered his address in St. Peter’s Square, in front the basilica where the Holy Door – which he described as the “great door of God’s Mercy” – will be opened December 8 to mark the official start of the Jubilee of Mercy.
While this door will be opened to everyone to offer grace of forgiveness, the Pope said we also must have the courage to enter.
“We are all sinners. May we take advantage of this moment and cross the threshold of of this mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving.”
Turning his reflection to last month’s Synod on the Family, the Pope spoke on how the Church is called to reach out to those who are lost and uncertain, and how Christian families, especially, are encouraged to enter this door in order to receive God’s blessing and friendship.
“If the door of God’s mercy is always open,” we must leave the doors of our institutions open so that “we can go out carrying God’s mercy.”
This, the Pope said, is the meaning meaning of the Jubilee: “Letting the Lord enter and go out.”
While the invitation is always present, God never forces us to enter, Pope Francis continued.
Citing the book of Revelation, in which those who open their homes when they hear the Lord knocking, the Pope said “Even he asks permission to enter … and does not force open the door.”
The Roman Pontiff observed it has become the norm in many places to always keep our doors locked.
While there is a need for security, this locking of doors shouldn’t apply to all areas of our life, be it family life, our cities, society – and especially the Church.
Acknowledging the need for safety, Pope Francis said the Church, as well as homes, should open their doors often, in case “there is someone outside waiting, and who perhaps lacks the courage, or even the strength to knock.”
The Roman Pontiff said the Lord, as our Shepherd, protects his sheep, allowing us to enter and exit without fear.
“Jesus is the door whereby we enter and go out, because the God’s sheepfold is a safe haven, not a prison!” the Pope said.
He added: “The Church is the caretaker of God’s house, not its owner!”