THE OPEN DOOR
(From his Pastoral Letter of October 2012, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires)
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Among the most striking experiences of the last decades is finding doors closed. Little by little increasing insecurity has made us bolt doors, employ means of vigilance, install security cameras and mistrust strangers who call at our door.
None the less in some places there are doors that are still open. The closed door is really a symbol of our life today. It is something more than a simple sociological fact; it is an existential reality that is imposing itself as a way of life, a way of confronting reality, others and the future.
The bolted door of my house, the place of my intimate life, my dreams, hopes, sufferings and moments of happiness, is locked against others. And it is not simply a matter of the physical house; it is also the whole area of my life, of my heart. All the time there are fewer who can cross that threshold. The security of reinforced doors protects the insecurity of a life which is becoming more fragile and less open to the riches of the life and the love of others.
The image of an open door has always been a symbol of light, friendship, happiness, liberty and trust. How we need to recover them! The closed door does us harm, reduces and separates us….
God always takes the initiative and He does not want anyone to be excluded. God calls at the door of our hearts: Look, I am at the door, calling: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I shall enter his house and dine with him and him with me (Rev.3.20)….
Crossing through that door presupposes the beginning of a way or journey that lasts a lifetime, as we pass in front of so many doors which open to us today, many of them false doors, doors that invite us in a very attractive but lying manner to go down that road, promising an empty narcissistic happiness which has an expiry dated: doors that lead to cross-roads where, no matter which option we follow, will, sooner or later, cause suffering and confusion, doors focused on self which wear out and have no guarantee for the future.
While the doors of the houses are closed, the doors of the shopping malls are always open.
One passes through the door of faith, one crosses that threshold, when the Word of God is announced and the heart allows itself to be shaped by that grace which transforms. A grace which has a concrete name, and that name is Jesus. Jesus is the door (Jn 10:9). He, and only He, is and will always be the door. No one goes to the Father except through Him (Jn.14.6). If there is no Christ, there is no way to God. As the door, He opens the way to God and as Good Shepherd he is the Only One who looks after us at the price of his own life….
To open the doors of our hearts as the disciples of Emmaus did, asking him to stay with us so that we may pass through the doors of faith and that the Lord himself bring us to understand the reasons why we believe, so that we may then go out to announce it. Faith presumes that we decide to be with the Lord, to live with him and share this with our brothers and sisters….
Crossing the threshold of the faith supposes that we will not be ashamed to have the heart of a child who, because he or she still believes in impossible things, can still live in hope, which is the only thing capable of giving sense to and transforming history….
Crossing the threshold of the faith brings us to beg for everyone “the same sentiments that Christ had” (Phil 2-5), so that each discover a new way of thinking, of communicating with one another, of looking at others, of respecting one another, of being in family together, of planning our futures, of living out love and living out our vocation.
Crossing the threshold of the faith is to be active, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit who is present in the Church and who is also seen in the signs of the times. It is to join in the constant movement of life and of history without falling into paralysing defeatism, thinking that everything in the past was better. It is an urgency to think in new ways, to offer new suggestions, a new creativity, kneading life with “the new leaven of justice and holiness” (1 Cor. 5:8)….
Crossing the threshold… means doing something totally new for society and the Church; because “anyone who is in Christ is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17-21).
Crossing the threshold of the faith leads us to forgiving and to know how to break into a smile. It means approaching every person who lives on the edge of existence and to call them by name. It means taking care of the weakest and supporting their trembling knees, in the certainty that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for Jesus himself (Mt 25:40).
Crossing the threshold of the Faith demands that we celebrate life. That we let ourselves be transformed because we have been made one with Jesus at the table of the Eucharist celebrated in community, and from there our hands and hearts are busy working on the great project of the Kingdom. Then all the rest will be given to us as well (Mt 6:33)….
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio