Christians who ask to be let in should never find doors closed.
Churches are not offices where documents and letters are presented when someone
is hoping to enter God’s grace. Pope Francis reflected on Christian acceptance
in his homily at the Mass he concelebrated with Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan
and others in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae on Saturday, 25 May,
Commenting on Mark's Gospel the Holy Father recalled Jesus'
reprimand to his disciples who wanted to prevent people from bringing children
to him (10:143-16). The disciples were not acting out of unkindness, they only
wanted to help Jesus. They had done the same thing in Jericho when they tried to
silence the blind man. It was as if they had said “protocol does not permit it,
he is the second Person of the Trinity.... This reminds me of many Christians”.
By way of explanation the Pope cited the example of an engaged
couple who went to a parish office and instead of receiving support and
congratulations were fobbed off with a list of the prices for the wedding and
asked to show their documents. “So they found the door closed”, he said. “Those
who could have opened the door, thanking God for this new marriage”, failed to
do. On the contrary, they shut it. So often “we control faith rather than
facilitating it”, and this is something “which began in Jesus’ time with the
Apostles”. We are tempted to “take over the Lord”.
The Pope gave another example. A single mother goes to the
parish to ask for Baptism for her child and hears “a Christian” say: “no, you
can't have it, you’re not married”. “Look at this girl who had had the courage
to carry her pregnancy to term” and not to have an abortion. “What does she
find? A closed door”, as do so many. “This is not good pastoral zeal, it
distances people from the Lord and does not open doors. So when we take this
path... we are not doing good to people, the People of God”. Jesus “instituted
seven sacraments, and with this approach we institute the eighth, the sacrament
of the pastoral customs office”.
Finally Pope Francis explained that Jesus wants everyone to be
close to him. “Let us think of all Christians of good will who err and shut the
door instead of opening it”. Let us ask the Lord to grant that “all who approach
the Church find doors open to encounter Jesus' love”.