After praying the Angelus with people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 21 August, Pope Francis expressed his “concern and sorrow” because of “the situation that has developed in Nicaragua”.
He expressed his “hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful coexistence might still be found”. Earlier, the Pope had reflected on a Gospel passage from Luke, reminding the faithful that “the narrow door” of salvation is not reserved for “a select few”, but rather, is “open to everyone” and measured by one’s capacity to “commit one’s life to love, in service and in giving oneself”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words.
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the passage from the Gospel of Luke for this Sunday’s liturgy, someone asks Jesus, “Will those who are saved be few?” And the Lord responds: “Strive to enter by the narrow door” (Lk 13:24). The narrow door is an image that could scare us, as if salvation is destined for only a select few, or for perfect people. But this contradicts what Jesus has taught us on many occasions; and, as a matter of fact, a little further ahead, he confirms, “Men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God” (v. 29). Therefore, this door is narrow, but is open to everyone! Do not forget this: to everyone! The door is open to everyone!
But to better understand what this narrow door is, we need to ask what it is. Jesus uses an image from contemporary life, most likely referring to the fact that, when evening would fall, the doors of the city would be closed and only one, the smallest and the narrowest, would remain open. To return home, that was the only way a person could go.
Now let’s think about when Jesus says, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved” (Jn 10:9). He wants to tell us that to enter into God’s life, into salvation, we need to pass through him, not through anyone else, through him; to welcome him and his Word. Just as to enter into the city, one had to “measure” oneself against the only narrow door that was still open, so too the Christian life is “measured against Christ”, founded and modelled on him. This means that the measuring stick is Jesus and his Gospel — not what we think, but what he says to us. And so, we are talking about a narrow door not because only a few are destined to go through it, no, but because to belong to Christ means to follow him, to commit one’s life to love, in service and in giving oneself as he did, who passed through the narrow door of the cross. Entering into the project God proposes for our life requires that we restrict the space of selfishness, reduce the presumption of self-sufficiency, lower the heights of arrogance and pride, and that we overcome laziness, in order to traverse the risk of love, even when it involves the cross.
Let’s think, to be concrete, about those daily acts of love we struggle to carry out: let’s think of parents who dedicate themselves to their children, making sacrifices and renouncing time for themselves; of those who concern themselves with others and not only with their own interests — how many people are good like this; let’s think of those who spend themselves in service to the elderly, to the poorest and most vulnerable; let’s think of those who keep on working, with commitment, putting up with discomfort and, perhaps, with misunderstanding; let’s think of those who suffer because of their faith, but who continue to pray and love; let’s think of those who, rather than following their own instincts, respond to evil with good, finding the strength to forgive and the courage to begin again. These are just a few examples of people who do not choose the wide door of their own convenience, but the narrow door of Jesus, of a life spent in love. The Lord says today that the Father will recognise them much more than those who believe they are already saved but who are actually “workers of iniquity” (Lk 13:27) in life.
Brothers and sisters, which side do we want to be on? Do we prefer the easy way of thinking only about ourselves, or do we choose the narrow door of the Gospel that puts our selfishness into crisis, but which makes us able to welcome the true life that comes from God and makes us happy? Which side are we on? May Our Lady, who followed Jesus all the way to the cross, help us to measure our life with him so as to enter into full and eternal life.
After the Angelus the Pope continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, I am closely following, with concern and sorrow, the situation that has developed in Nicaragua, involving people and institutions. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful coexistence might still be found. Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Purísima, to inspire this concrete will in everyone’s heart.
Brothers and sisters, I greet all of you, people from Rome and pilgrims from various countries — families, parish groups, associations. In particular, I greet the community from the Pontifical North American College, especially the new seminarians who have just arrived, and I urge them toward spiritual commitment and fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church. I greet the consecrated women of the Ordo virginum, and I encourage them to joyfully bear witness to the love of Christ.
I greet the faithful from Verona, Trevignano, Pratissolo, the young people from Paternò, Lequile and those participating in the Via lucis who, sustained by the example of the Saints “next door”, will be meeting with the poor who live near railway stations. And a greeting to the young people of the Immacolata.
Let us persevere in our closeness and prayer for the dear Ukrainian people who are experiencing an appalling cruelty.
I wish all of you a happy Sunday, and please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!