The following is a translation of Pope Francis’ extemporaneous remarks during his audience with the French association, “Lazarus”, after listening to the testimonies of some of those present.
I had written a discourse to share with you but I will consign it to you in writing because I want to speak about what came out today.
I will pause on the last image, the door. This experience of the open door, the closed door, the fear that they will not open the door to me, the fear that they may close the door in my face.... This experience that we have just heard about from one of you is the experience of each one of us, if we look within ourselves.
And I ask: what is my relationship to the door?
Some think that the door is one of their possessions and they put a lock on it and close it for themselves. Others are afraid to knock on the door. It is that fear that we have of knowing whether we will be welcomed and accepted. Others want to enter but are afraid of the door and they try to enter through the window. And we can thus imagine many situations and ask ourselves, what relationship do I have to the door?
The door is God, so what is my relationship to the door?
Do I take possession of the door for myself and not allow anyone to enter, or am I afraid to knock on the door, or do I hope that without knocking someone will open it to me? Each of us has different attitudes towards God, who is the door.
Sometimes in life one has to have the humility to knock on the door. Sometimes one has to have the courage to not be afraid of who will open the door, which is God, for me.
And once I have entered, I have to have the largesse not to close the door behind me, without opening it so that others may enter, and this is what “Lazarus” does: it opens doors. And it is what I wish to thank you for today, this witness, not only of “doormen” — you do not tend to the door, you are not “doormen” — but of men and women who — as they once opened the door to each one of you — feel the need to open it to others.
The door is God, who opens out to us, the door is our heart … it is open, it is protected.... It is all a job of thinking, which you know how to do.
I thank each of you for the witness you give, and keep going. “Lazarus” is something small, few people, few places, before so much need. But Jesus said something once: that leaven too is a small thing, but it is capable of multiplying, that the seed is a small thing but capable of making a large tree grow. The worst thing that can happen to “Lazarus” is to forget that it is small, because if it becomes large in heart, through power, pride and complaisance, the tree will not grow and and its mass will not expand.
Your wealth is not in the bank, your richness is being small, and continue like this.
And pray for the Church, that she may learn, our Holy Mother Church, we men and women of the Church, to always open the door and to have an attentive ear to those who knock on the door, at times softly.