‘Open the doors’ – Wake up call from Pope Francis
Pope Francis Issues Wake-Up Call to Polish Clergy
Pope Francis issued an inspiring wake-up call to Poland’s bishops and clergy on July 30 by telling them that “Jesus wants his to be a church on the move, a church that goes out into the world. And he wants it to do this just as he did.” ……….
Francis has heard about the tendency toward clericalism and resistance to change among many of the 156 bishops and 30,000 priests in this country where 90 percent of the people are Catholic and the faith is still strong and deep. Much has changed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism in 1989, but the church has been reluctant to renew itself.
He believes it is vital that the Polish church renews itself at this moment in history when the European Union country is politically polarized in the face of new challenges that are shaking both church and state. He would like the church to gain a new evangelical dynamism, and in his homily he sought to point the way.
At today’s Mass he began with the story from St. John’s Gospel that tells how after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostles—including St. Thomas, who had not seen the risen Lord—were gathered “behind closed doors,” but then Jesus appeared in their midst to bring them peace and send them out “to do just as he did.”
Francis reminded his listeners that Jesus was not sent into the world by the Father “to wield power, but to take the form of a slave; he came not to be served, but to serve, and to bring the Good News.”
In the same way, Francis said, “Jesus’ followers are sent forth in every age.” The Gospel story says that “the disciples had closed the doors out of fear,” but then Jesus came and “sends them out on mission. He wants them to open the doors and go out to spread God’s pardon and peace, with the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The Argentine pope recalled that Saint John Paul II re-echoed this call of Jesus in 1978 with his memorable and stirring appeal: “Open the Doors!” But Francis noted that “yet in our lives as priests and consecrated persons, we can often be tempted to remain enclosed, out of fear or convenience, within ourselves and in our surroundings.”
On the other hand, he said, “Jesus directs us to a one-way street: that of going forth from ourselves. It is a one-way trip, with no return ticket. It involves making an exodus from ourselves, losing our lives for his sake.” Moreover, Jesus does not like “journeys half-made, doors half-closed, lives lived on two tracks.”
Francis told the Polish clergy that Jesus wants their lives to “be shaped by concrete love—a love, in other words, marked by service and availability.” This means putting Jesus “in the midst”of their lives and “to seek nothing else for themselves.” It means “to flee the satisfaction of being at the center of things” and “not build on the shaky foundations of worldly power, or settle into the comforts that compromise evangelization.” It means “to not waste time planning a secure future,” and “not be content with a life of mediocrity.” ………..
Looking at the bishops and clergy seated in front of him, he said, “Jesus wants hearts that are open and tender towards the weak, never hearts that are hardened. He wants docile and transparent hearts that do not dissimulate before those whom the church appoints as our guides.”
He urged them to base their lives on the Gospel, which they should “read and re-read because it is “the living book of God’s mercy,” but he added, “it still has many blank pages left. It remains an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practice.”
He encouraged them to write those pages with the help of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who can “teach us how to take concrete care of the wounds of Jesus in our brothers and sisters in need, those close at hand and those far away, the sick and the migrant” and “to show concern for one another as true brothers and sisters in the communion of the church.”
Cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman for that matter). Once again Pope Francis appears to strike just the right note for the occasion. His ‘enemies’ fall silent, any prepared rebuttals muted before the truth of his (Christ’s!) irresistable message. The Church is the place from whence we go forth, the means to the end that is God’s Kingdom, not a museum for antiquated ideas and artefacts.