The quote below from Pope Francis is a keeper, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you. I hope it becomes a keeper for you, too.
In his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father spoke about the Holy Spirit in the context of the conversion of the first pagans to Christianity, found in today’s Mass readings.
Here’s the quote, and then I’ll tell you why it’s a keeper (if you didn’t already figure that out by the time you finish reading it).
“When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, lets do it this way’… and Peter in that first diocese – the first diocese was Antioch – makes this decision: ‘Who am I to admit impediments?’ A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never.”
I am, dear friends, guilty as charged. I love to keep my hand on the door handle, ever-ready to slam it shut if things aren’t going my way. That includes both difficult and wonderful things!
I think we – and I’m speaking collectively here after having been both on the sending and receiving end – that we do this most often in our human relationships. We all have someone (or many someones) in our lives who are tough to get along with, or even vengeful and abrasive. After being slapped upside the head a few times, we declare, “That person will never change!” and either back off of the relationship or cut if off entirely. We label people as trouble makers, sinners, vixens, weirdos, deranged, or whatever and then bar them from our hearts, from our lives.
Often, we’ll do that under the auspices of protecting ourselves. But, isn’t it God who does the protecting? Isn’t the Spirit who works in the hearts of these people?
Who are we to close that door?
Granted, there are times when we must protect ourselves and/or our families, as in the case of an abusive relationship. Even then, even if we must separate ourselves from that person, we still must leave the door open for their conversion. We can and should pray for them, offer for them, and if interaction is necessary, respond to them in charity. We don’t know what the Triune God is effecting in that person’s mind and heart! We don’t know what miracles lie ahead, and we haven’t the right to pass judgment or the ability to predict the future.
Like St. Peter, we should be open to all that God lays before us, even when it’s a pagan seeking conversion, even when it’s a stubborn pagan resisting conversion. The Holy Spirit will handle the conversion part, and in the meantime, we need to remain open to that possibility.
Who are we to close doors?