Closed door Church

Pope Francis

25.05.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta

Mark 10: 13-16

Jesus' reprimanded his disciples who wanted to prevent people from bringing children to him. 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.

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. 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”.

A girl-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”.

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.


Pope Francis

26.09.21 Angelus, St Peter's Square

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Mark 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

Pope Francis -The temptation of closedness - Angelus 26.09.21

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

The Gospel of today’s Liturgy recounts a brief dialogue between Jesus and the Apostle John, who speaks on behalf of all the entire group of disciples. They saw a man who was casting out demons in the name of the Lord, but they stopped him because he was not part of their group. At this point, Jesus invites them not to hinder those who do good, because they contribute to the fulfilment of God's plan (cf. Mk 9:38-41). Then He admonishes them: instead of dividing people into good and bad, we are all called to watch be vigilant over our own hearts, lest we succumb to evil and bring scandal to others (cf. vv. 42-45, 47-48).

In short, Jesus’ words reveal a temptation, and offer an exhortation. The temptation is that of closedness. The disciples would like to hinder a good deed simply because it is performed by someone who did not belong to their group. They think they have the “exclusive right over Jesus”, and that they are the only ones authorised to work for the Kingdom of God. But in this way, they end up considering feeling that they are themselves privileged and consider others as outsiders, to the extent of becoming hostile towards them. Brothers and sisters, every closure tends in fact to keep us at a distance from those who do not think like we do, and this – we know – is the root of so many evils in history: of the absolutism that has often generated dictatorships and so much violence towards those who are different.

But we need to be vigilant about closure in the Church too. Because the devil, who is the divider – this is what the word “devil” means, the one who divides – always insinuates suspicions to divide and exclude people. He tempts with using cunning, and it can happen as with those disciples, who go so far as to end up excluding even someone who had cast out the devil himself! Sometimes we too, instead of being humble and open communities, can give the impression of being the “top of the class” and keeping others at a distance; instead of trying to walk with everyone, we can display our “believer’s license”: “I am a believer”, “I am Catholic”, “I belong to this association, to that one”, and the others, poor things, do not. This is a sin. Showing off one’s “believer’s license” to judge and exclude. Let us ask for the grace to overcome the temptation to judge and to categorise, and may God preserve us from the “nest” mentality, that of jealously guarding ourselves in the small group of those who consider themselves good: the priest with his loyal followers, the pastoral workers closed up among themselves so that no one can infiltrate, the movements and associations in their own particular charism, and so on. Closed. All this runs the risk of turning Christian communities into places of separation and not of communion. The Holy Spirit does not want closedness; He wants openness, and welcoming communities where there is a place for everyone.

And then in the Gospel there is Jesus’ exhortation: instead of judging everything and everyone, let us beware be careful of ourselves! Indeed, the risk is that of being inflexible towards others and indulgent towards ourselves. And Jesus urges us not to descend to making pacts with evil, with striking images: “If something in you causes you to sin, cut it off!” (cf. vv. 43-48). If something harms you, cut it off! He does not say, “If something is a reason for scandal, stop, think about it, improve a bit…”. No: “Cut it off! Immediately! Jesus is radical in this, demanding, but for our own good, like a good doctor. Every cut, every pruning, is so we can grow better and bear fruit in love.

Let us ask, then: what is it in me that is contrary to the Gospel? What, in concrete terms, does Jesus want me to cut out of my life?

Let us pray to Mary Immaculate, that she may help us be welcoming towards others and vigilant about ourselves.