Reminding us that Jesus’ house is inclusive not exclusive, Pope Francis said in his homily March 17 at Santa Marta Church in the Vatican that the Church “is the home of Jesus and Jesus welcomes – but not only welcomes, goes to find people.”
Addressing the self-appointed gatekeepers of the Church who seem more interested in keeping people out of Jesus’ house than inviting them in, the Pope asked, “Who are you who shuts the door of your hearts to a man, a woman who wants to improve, to return back into the people of God, because the Holy Spirit has stirred his or her heart?”
Catholics do not shun sinners, nor do we shoot our wounded. We do what Jesus would do. The Holy Father asked, “If people are hurt, what does Jesus do? Scold them because they are hurt? No, he comes and carries them on his shoulders. This is called mercy,” he added, “and when God reprimands his people – ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ (Matt 9:13, Hosea 6:6) he speaks of this.”
The Holy Father went on to say that Christians who have made mistakes and are moved by the Holy Spirit to return home to the Church only to find the door closed, must hear the words, “You have done wrong and you cannot. If you want to come, come to Mass on Sunday, but stay there, but do not do more.” To these gatekeepers, the Pope said, “You cannot, no, you cannot,” concluding with “That which the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of people, Christians with the psychology of doctors of the law destroy.”
Our challenge is to find ways to bring people to Christ in his Church, not seek ways to drive them away.
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