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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

General audience: the Holy Door is the door of God's mercy

Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – As we approach the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of today's Wednesday general audience to the meaning of the “Holy Door”, which he will open on 8 December in St. Peter's Basilica. This great door is that of God's mercy, which welcomes our repentance and offers us the grace of forgiveness; a door which is opened generously but whose threshold must be crossed with courage.

Francis referred to the recent Synod of Bishops, “which gave all families and all the Church as strong impetus to meet at the threshold of this open door. The Church was encouraged to open her doors, to go forth with the Lord towards His sons and daughters who walk together, at times uncertain, at times lost, in these difficult times. Christian families, in particular, have been encouraged to open the door to the Lord Who waits to enter, bringing His blessing. But the Lord never forces the door; He asks permission to enter through ours, although His doors are always open”.

“There are still places in the world where doors are not locked, but there are also many where reinforced doors have become normal. We must not accept the idea of having to apply this system to our whole life, to life within the family, in the city, in society, and far less so in the life of the Church. … An inhospitable Church, like a family closed in on itself, mortifies the Gospel and makes the world arid. No more reinforced doors in the Church!” he exclaimed.

“The symbolic management of doors – thresholds, passages, frontiers – has become crucial. The door must protect, certainly, but not repudiate. The door must not be forced: on the contrary, it is necessary to ask permission to enter, as hospitality shines in the freedom of welcome, and darkens in the arrogance of invasion. The door is opened frequently, to see if there is anyone waiting outside, who perhaps does not have the courage or even the strength to knock. How many people no longer trust … to knock on the door of our Christian heart, at the doors of our Churches. … We have lost their trust; please, we must not let this happen. The door says many things about the house, and also the Church”.

“We ourselves are the guardians and servants of the Door of God, Who is Jesus”, affirmed Francis. “Jesus is the door that lets us enter and leave. Because God's flock is a refuge, not a prison. … We must pass by the door and listen to Jesus' voice; if we hear His tone of voice, we are safe and sound. … If the guardian hears the voice of the Shepherd, then he opens, and he lets in all the sheep that the Shepherd brings, all of them, including those lost in the woods, that the Good Shepherd has gone to find. The sheep are not chosen by the guardian, but rather by the Good Shepherd. The guardian too obeys the voice of the Shepherd. The Church is the door to the house of the Lord but she is not the proprietor of the house of the Lord”.

The Pope concluded his catechesis by reiterating that the Holy Family of Nazareth knew well what was meant by an open or closed door for someone awaiting the birth of a child, for those who do not have shelter, and for those who must flee danger. May Christian families make the threshold of their home a little sign of the great Door of God's mercy and welcome. It is precisely in this way that the Church must be recognised, in every corner of the earth, “as the guardian of a God Who knocks to enter, with the welcome of a God Who does not close the door in your face with the excuse that you do not belong to the household”.

“With this spirit”, he concluded, “we approach the Jubilee: there will be the Holy Door, but it is the door of God's great mercy. There will also be the door of our heart, to receive all God's forgiveness and to give ours in turn, welcoming all those who knock on our door”.

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