Angelus by Pope Francis at St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 25 August 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel (cf. Lk 13: 22-30) presents us with Jesus passing by teaching through cities and villages, on our way to Jerusalem, where he knows he must die on the cross for the salvation of us all. In this picture, the question of a man is inserted, who turns to Him saying: "Lord, are those few saved?" (V. 23). The question was debated at that time - how many are saved, how many are not ... - and there were different ways of interpreting the Scriptures in this regard, depending on the texts they took. But Jesus turns the question upside down - which focuses more on quantity, that is "are they few? ..." - and instead places the answer on the level of responsibility, inviting us to use the present time well. In fact, he says: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, because many, I tell you, will try to enter, but will not succeed" (v. 24).
With these words, Jesus makes it clear that it is not a question of numbers, there is no "closed number" in Paradise! But it is a question of crossing the right passage right now, and this right step is for everyone, but it is tight. That is the question. Jesus does not want to deceive us, saying: "Yes, rest assured, it is easy, there is a beautiful highway and in the end a big door ...". It does not tell us this: it speaks to us of the narrow door. He tells us things as they are: the passage is narrow. What do you mean? In the sense that to be saved one must love God and one's neighbor, and this is not comfortable! It is a "narrow door" because it is demanding, love is always demanding, it requires commitment, indeed, "effort", that is a determined and persevering will to live according to the Gospel. St. Paul calls it "the good fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12). It takes the effort of every day, all day to love God and others.
And, to better explain himself, Jesus tells a parable. There is a landlord, who represents the Lord. His house symbolizes eternal life, that is, salvation. And here the image of the door returns. Jesus says: "When the landlord gets up and closes the door, you, left out, will begin to knock on the door saying:" Lord, open us ". But he will answer: "I don't know where you are from" "(v. 25). These people will then try to be recognized, reminding the landlord: "I ate with you, I drank with you ... I listened to your advice, your teachings in public ..." (see v. 26); "I was there when you gave that conference ...". But the Lord will repeat that he does not know them, and calls them "workers of injustice". Here's the problem! The Lord will recognize us not for our titles - "But look, Lord, that I belonged to that association, that I was a friend of this monsignor, of that cardinal, of that priest ...". No, titles don't matter, they don't count. The Lord will recognize us only for a humble life, a good life, a life of faith that is translated into works.
And for us Christians, this means that we are called to establish a true communion with Jesus, praying, going to church, approaching the Sacraments and nourishing ourselves with his Word. This keeps us in faith, nourishes our hope, revives charity. And so, with the grace of God, we can and must spend our lives for the good of our brothers, fight against every form of evil and injustice.
May the Virgin Mary help us in this. She went through the narrow door that is Jesus. She welcomed him with all her heart and followed him every day of her life, even when she didn't understand, even when a sword pierced her soul. For this reason we invoke her as "Gate of Heaven": Mary, Gate of Heaven; a door that exactly follows the form of Jesus: the door to the heart of God, a demanding heart, but open to all of us.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims.
I greet in particular the community of the Pontifical North American College, especially the newly arrived new seminarians. Dear seminarians, I urge you to spiritual commitment and fidelity to Christ, to the Gospel and to the teaching of the Church. Without building on these columns, it will be impossible to really build your vocation. I greet the young people of Catholic Action in the diocese of Bologna; the boys of the pastoral unit of Rovato, diocese of Brescia; and those of Ponte Nossa, diocese of Bergamo.
We are all worried about the vast fires that have developed in the Amazon. We pray that, with everyone's commitment, they may be tamed as soon as possible. That forest lung is vital to our planet.
I see that there are some of my Argentine countrymen, and I greet them well!
I wish you all a good Sunday. And please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.