Pope: Christians must be in the Church; not on the threshold
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday exhorted Christians to feel they are an integral part of the Church.
Speaking during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, the Pope said that Jesus does not seek out man’s sins, but looks to his heart, and he invited all believers not to hover on the threshold of the Church, but to come right in.
Jesus did the “work” 2000 years ago when he chose twelve pillars upon which to build His Church, and positioned himself as the basis and the corner stone.
Jesus, Pope Francis said, opened the doors of that Church to all, without distinction, because Christ is interested in loving and in healing the hearts of men, not in weighing up their sins.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day that tells of the birth of the Church “built upon the foundation of the Apostles with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone” through whom the whole structure is held together, the Pope recalled the “actions” carried out by Jesus when he founded the Church: retiring in prayer, choosing his disciples and simultaneously welcoming and healing the crowd:
“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church. As St Paul says, this Church is built on the foundations of the Apostles; he chose twelve of them. All of them sinners. Judas was not the one who sinned the most: I don’t know who sinned the most… Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But He chose”.
Jesus – Pope Francis said – wants us “inside” the Church. Not like guests or strangers, but with the “rights of a citizen”. We are not just passing through – he continued – it is where we have our roots. It is where our life is:
“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not Church. We are on the threshold and look inside: “How lovely… yes this is beautiful…” Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door…’ Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic…”
This is an attitude that has no sense in respect to the total love and mercy that Jesus has for every person. Proof of this is in Christ’s attitude towards Peter, who had been put at the head of the Church. Even though the first pillar was to betrays Jesus, Jesus responds with forgiveness, keeping it in its place:
“For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at his heart. To be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed. Jesus who prays and Jesus who heals. It is something he does for each of us. We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals. May the Holy Spirit help us understand that this Church has its strength is in Jesus’s prayer that can heal us all”.